Policy

D.C. Stays Open This Time Around — Even If Federal Government Shuts Down

City shuttered during 2013 shutdown, before key provision

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., left, and Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser assured residents the District would remain open in the event of a federal government shutdown. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Metro will still run. City offices will keep the doors open.

The District of Columbia will remain open and operational even if the federal government shuts down over ongoing failures to reach a budget deal.

“Leadership is about stepping up, not shutting down,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a statement Friday. “Shutdown or no shutdown – DC is open.”

If Congressional leaders fail to pass a long-term appropriations bill or a stopgap spending measure by Friday, the federal government will shut down Saturday, when the current continuing resolution — which has kept the government open for the past four weeks — expires.

The District raises billions of dollars in revenue on its own each year through income, property, and sales taxes. Historically, though, permission from the federal government has been required for the District to spend that money on programs in Washington.

McConnell, Durbin Make Their Case As Shutdown Looms

When the federal government shut down in 2013, the city faced a programming crisis because it wasn’t allowed to spend its own money to fund local programs.

That won’t be the case this time around.

U.S. House Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton of D.C. assured residents Friday that a provision in the fiscal year 2017 spending omnibus will keep the D.C. government open if a shutdown is the outcome. She and other lawmakers successfully advocated the provision’s inclusion in each federal spending bill since the last federal government shutdown in 2013.

The provision effectively decouples D.C.’s local fiscal year 2018 budget from the yet-to-pass 2018 federal appropriations bill, allowing the District to spend in accordance with its own budget during a federal government shutdown. The mayor’s government must still comply with the terms and conditions of the federal government’s fiscal year 2017 omnibus.

“The D.C. government has done its job and passed a budget and should not be caught up like a bystander paying the price for congressional gridlock,” Norton said in a statement Friday.

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