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Eleanor Holmes Norton Steels for Possible D.C. Shutdown

As she did six months ago when a federal government shutdown seemed likely, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) is again moving to protect the District of Columbia from its own shutdown.

Congress is struggling to reach a deal on a continuing resolution that would keep the government funded and running after Sept. 30. Should lawmakers miss the deadline, the D.C. government and its services would go dark because it cannot spend local funds without an act of Congress.

Norton wants any continuing resolution passed through the House and Senate to contain language allowing the District to spend local funds during fiscal 2012, saving it from scrambling every time Congress appears likely to deadlock over a stopgap spending measure. Federal lawmakers narrowly avoided a lapse in spending in April, and they now appear to be heading in a similar direction.

“This would be a very small part of the CR, and it is absolutely necessary for the local government to keep spending its own money,” Norton said.

When the previous shutdown loomed, the District spent “considerable sums” of money to get ready, Norton said, but she was unable to give an exact figure. Linda Wharton-Boyd, a spokeswoman with the D.C. mayor’s office, said that funds were primarily spent on overtime to staffers and that the same type of preparations are under way.

“We are not a part of this federal fight, so we are asking Democrats and Republicans to treat D.C. from being part of such a fight not of its making and for which there might be no possible resolution,” said Norton, who introduced a similar measure in April that was never considered. “To put us through this again, all the considerable expense and effort, is unseemly and unnecessary.”

She is reaching out to Democratic leadership in both the House and Senate for support for including her language in the spending bill.

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