Washington, D.C. residents have long fought for autonomous control over their budget, which has always at the mercy of Congressional approval and, recently, Republican whims. On Thursday, Rep. John Mica (R-FL), one of the committee members who oversees Washington’s budget, dismissed the district’s recent vote in favor of budget autonomy. In an interview with WTTG-TV, Mica literally laughed off the vote, comparing the 85 percent majority to his children asking for more allowance:
Well, when my kids were young teenagers, they always wanted budget autonomy too. But we always, you know, you allow them to go their own way, and if they get out of line, according to the Constitution, the Congress has the right to step in…As long as they are minding their P’s and Q’s, so to say, I think the government can back off. But we must remain vigilant.
Before he made the comment, Mica had just admitted DC’s finance management has vastly improved since the dissolution of a Congressional control board, which restored day-to-day budget decisions to the city council. Regardless of the district’s actual financial behavior, Mica felt that “regression” could take place and emphasized that Congress should continue to have oversight.
Since taking the House in 2010, Republicans have abused their power over DC’s budget to advance their own agenda. Lawmakers from other states have attempted to force the overwhelmingly liberal district to outlaw abortion, reduce contraception access, sell more guns, block union membership, cut public transportation funds, and pay for private schools.
Since DC voters approved budget autonomy, Congress now has 35 legislative days to review the amendment. It will become law unless both houses pass a disapproval resolution and the president signs it.