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Congressional Appropriations Bill Contains Anti-D.C. Provisions

By Miriam Edelman

This post is a follow-up to prior pieces on the blog of the D.C. chapter of the National Organization for Women of earlier this year on Congressional interference against the nation’s capital. This anti-D.C. campaign continues.

Many anti-D.C. riders, including especially restrictive and granular ones on traffic cameras, were in the House Appropriations fiscal year 2024 spending bill for financial services and general government.

Through the annual appropriations process, House Republicans continued to impose their policy preferences on the District of Columbia The House Appropriations fiscal year 2024 spending bill for financial services and general government (H.R.4664) includes anti-D.C. restrictions that would overwrite the nation’s capital’s election laws and institute funding barriers to implementation of local D.C. policies. Some long-standing monetary sections limit how D.C. money can be used. H.R. 4664 outlaws D.C. from using local funds to subsidize abortions for people with low income and D.C. from implementing a recreational marijuana sales legal market. As the appropriations process is not yet complete, changes could occur. Some restrictions might be removed while others might be added.

In a June 22, 2023, letter to the Chair and Ranking Member of the U.S. House’s Appropriations Committee’s Financial Services and General Government, D.C. Mayor Bowser, Mendelson, and Schwalb opposed numerous riders, including new ones proposed in 2023, and requested that the “proposed funding for D.C. be restored to the levels requested for the Emergency Planning and Security Fund, the DC Court of Appeals, the Superior Court, and the Court System.” According to these local leaders, “the riders and budget cuts in the Subcommittee's proposal jeopardize public safety, harm the public health, and will unbalance the District’s Fiscal Year 2024 budget.” They also object to infringements on home rule effected by the D.C. riders, saying “They are anti-democratic, inconsistent with the Home Rule Act, and disrespectful of the rights of DC residents to self-governance.”

Many of the anti-D.C. riders are more restrictive than in previous recent years. One rider would prohibit D.C. from utilizing traffic cameras. Local D.C. officials fear that this stipulation would upend the budget of the District of Columbia. D.C. Council Committee on Transportation and the Environment’s Chair Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) said that repealing automated traffic enforcement probably would cause a $1 billion loss in D.C.’s revenues, severely harming the city’s public safety work and social services. He also said that under the D.C.’s recent budget, D.C. could go from 140 to nearly 500 automated cameras. Mendelson said if the spending bill passed, the D.C. Council might have to resort to an emergency session and rewrite the D.C. budget. He and Allen remarked that cameras promote public safety by discouraging drivers from running red lights.

Other riders in H.R. 4664 would further restrict D.C. The bill would repeal the 2016 “Death with Dignity Act” that allows physicians to assist terminally-ill people in ending their lives. This bill also would bar D.C. from utilizing funds to implement a law enacted last year that would ban right turns on red. It would also prohibit D.C. from using money to enforce a law that protects D.C. workers from discrimination involving their reproductive health decisions.

It appears that H.R. 4664 would alter D.C.’s gun laws so as to allow any person licensed by any state to have and to carry a concealed gun to do so in the District of Columbia. Thus, Members of Congress and others with such licenses would be allowed to carry a concealed gun in places where they currently prohibited from doing so. Members of Congress are referenced because Representative Lauren Boebert (R-CO) posted a video shortly after being sworn into Congress in January 2021 declaring that she would carry a gun in Washington, D.C. Boebert referred to D.C. as one of the ten most dangerous cities in the U.S. Soon after, D.C. police contacted Boebert and issued her a permit to carry a concealed gun in Washington, D.C.

That bill’s section 827 stipulates, “Sec. 827. An individual who has a valid weapons carry permit from any United States state or territory may possess and carry a concealed handgun in the area governed by the District of Columbia and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).” If this section were passed, it would jeopardize public safety. As of January 2023, there is evidence that “shall-issue concealed-carry laws may increase total and firearm homicides.”

In D.C., people must be licensed to carry a firearm concealed, and open carry is not allowed. However, there are exceptions. According to § 22–4504 of the D.C. Code,

(a) No person shall carry within the District of Columbia either openly or concealed on or about their person, a pistol, without a license issued pursuant to District of Columbia law, or any deadly or dangerous weapon. Whoever violates this section shall be punished as provided in § 22-4515, except that:

An individual with a valid firearm registration is permitted to carry the firearm in his/her home, when it is used for legal recreational reasons, when it is kept at the person’s office, and when it is moved for a legal reason. A resident or a non-resident can get a Concealed Carry License. People currently are not allowed to carry a concealed firearm in the following circumstances/locations:

1. “Shall not carry a pistol while consuming alcohol or while impaired.

2. A building or office occupied by the District of Columbia or its agencies.

3. The building and grounds, including any adjacent parking lot of a childcare facility, preschool, elementary or secondary school, or a public or private college or university.

4. A hospital or an office where medical or mental health services are the primary services provided.

5. A penal institution, secure juvenile residential facility, or halfway house.

6. A polling place while voting is occurring.

7. A public transportation vehicle, including the Metrorail transit system and its stations.

8. Any premises where alcohol is served, sold and consumed on the premises (pursuant to license issued under Title 25 of D.C. Code)

9. Stadium or Arena

10. Public Gathering or special event open to the public when the organizer has provided notice and posted signage prohibiting the carrying of pistols in advance of the gathering or special event.

11. The public memorials on the National Mall and along the Tidal Basin, and any area where firearms are prohibited under federal law or by a federal agency, including the U.S. Capitol buildings and grounds.

12. The area around the White House ( between Constitution Ave. and H St. and between 15th St. and 17th St. NW)

13. The U.S. Naval Observatory and its grounds (from the perimeter of its fence to the curb of Massachusetts Ave. NW from 34th St. south on Massachusetts Ave to Observatory Circle NW)

14. When a dignitary or high-ranking official of the United States or a state, local, or foreign government is moving under the protection of the MPD, the U.S Secret Service, the U.S Capitol Police, or other law enforcement agency that does not include a distance greater than 1,000 feet from the moving dignitary. ( provided notice has been given by signs or an officer’s order)

15. A Demonstration in a public place (within a perimeter of 1,000 feet designated by a law enforcement agency, and notice has been given by signs or an officer’s order)

16. On private residential property unless authorized by the property owner.

17. A place of religious worship unless authorized by the owner or authorized agent.

18. Non-residential property that is posted with conspicuous signage prohibiting the carrying of a concealed pistol.”

Delegate Norton (D-DC) objected to the anti-D.C. riders. According to her office’s press release, she “was outraged at the anti-home-rule riders in the bill, which Republicans try to attach to the annual D.C. spending bill to exert control over local D.C. matters, despite their positions as elected officials representing districts far from D.C.” In another press release, Norton’s office detailed the D.C. riders in the House and Senate Appropriations Committees-passed fiscal year 2024 bills that fund D.C.:

The Senate bill, as reported out of committee:

  • Increases the annual award limit for the D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant Program (DCTAG) from $10,000 to $15,000 and the lifetime award limit from $50,000 to $75,000. DCTAG makes up the difference for D.C. residents between in-state and out-of-state tuition at public institutions of higher education in the United States.

  • Maintains the existing abortion rider, which prohibits D.C. from spending its own local funds on abortions for low-income women.

  • Maintains the existing marijuana rider, which prohibits D.C. from commercializing the sale of marijuana.

The House bill, as reported out of committee:

  • Prohibits any funds from being used to carry out D.C.’s 2022 policing reform law.

  • Repeals D.C.’s Death with Dignity Act.

  • Permits anyone with a concealed carry permit from any state or territory to carry a concealed handgun in D.C. and on WMATA.

  • Maintains the existing abortion rider, which prohibits D.C. from spending its own local funds on abortions for low-income women.

  • Maintains the existing marijuana rider, which prohibits D.C. from commercializing the sale of marijuana.

  • Prohibits D.C. from using funds to enact or carry out any law that prohibits motorists from making right turns on red, including the Safer Streets Amendment Act of 2022.

  • Prohibits D.C. from using funds to carry out its automated traffic enforcement law.

  • Repeals a portion of D.C‘s Anti-Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) law that currently exempts the D.C. government.

  • Requires D.C. to report on its enforcement of the Partial Birth Abortion Act.

  • Requires D.C. to report on maternity care access.

  • Prohibits D.C. from using funds to carry out the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act.

  • Provides $40 million for DCTAG.

  • The bill exempts D.C. from federal government shutdowns in fiscal year 2024. Norton has gotten annual shutdown exemptions enacted every year since the 2013 federal government shutdown.

  • The bill provides $8 million for D.C. Water for ongoing work to control flooding in D.C. and to clean up the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers and Rock Creek.

  • The bill provides $28 million for the Emergency Planning and Security Fund, which pays for the unique public safety and security costs the District incurs as the nation's capital, and is designed to cover the District's costs upfront so D.C. does not need to expend local funds and then seek an appropriation to be reimbursed for such costs after the fact.

  • The bill provides $600,000 for the Major General David F. Wherley, Jr. District of Columbia National Guard Retention and College Access Program.

  • The bill provides $4 million to combat HIV/AIDS in D.C.”

Call to Action

Prevent D.C. riders from becoming law. Protect the nation’s capital. Contact your Senators and Representatives.


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