D.C. abortion funding banned in 2011 federal budget deal

The District is banned from spending its own money to provide abortions for low-income women under one provision in Friday's late night budget deal to avoid a government shutdown.


Mayor Vince Gray. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Although Mayor Vince Gray and many D.C. residents were relieved a shutdown was avoided, two provisional riders aimed at the District are stirring controversy.

In addition to the abortion rider, the deal includes money to restart the city's school voucher program, the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program, WTOP reports.

The program has been a priority of House Speaker John Boehner, using federal tax dollars to subsidize private-school tuition. Gray and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton oppose the school voucher program, but other city officials, including Councilman Marion Barry and Council Chairman Kwame Brown, support it, according to WTOP.

Gray said he was "angry and terribly disappointed that the District of Columbia suffered collateral damage amidst partisan bickering."

Gray said the riders on the school voucher program and on abortion funding violate D.C.'s autonomy.

"While one rider purports to provide educational aid to children in need, the other takes away desperately needed aid from poor women," Gray said. "Hypocrisy is alive and well in the United States Congress."

Referring to what he called the "colonial status of the District of Columbia," Gray said "no other state or jurisdiction had to endure the hardship of planning to shut down a municipal government, thus spending valuable resources and personnel on a process that never should have been necessary."

He called on Congress to "do what is morally right and grant the residents of the District of Columbia -- who pay more than $5 billion in taxes annually -- the right of full citizenship and budget autonomy."

The fate of one other D.C. provision, however, remained unsolved. The Washington Post reports a House-passed ban on the city using its own money for needle-exchange programs must still be negotiated.

Gray also took to Twitter Saturday morning to express his opinions on the deal, calling them a "shameful violation."

Anti-DC-autonomy riders on budget bill on abortion rights, vouchers shameful violation of our right to govern ourselves. @DCVoteless than a minute ago via HootSuite Favorite Retweet Reply