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Many Egregious D.C. Riders Were Excluded from Recent D.C.-Related Appropriations Law

By: Miriam Edelman

This post is a follow-up to the “Congressional Appropriations Bill Contains Anti-D.C. Provisions” blog piece of the D.C. chapter of the National Organization for Women. Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 appropriations for D.C. is now over. The riders in the recent D.C. appropriations-related law are about just marijuana and abortion, both of which have been subject to long-standing restrictions.

 

As the prior post reported, the current U.S. Congress proposed extremely restrictive anti-D.C. riders in the annual appropriations bill. Again, Congress included marijuana-related and abortion-related riders of the past. However, some especially egregious parts introduced for the FY2024 appropriations bill would have prohibited D.C. from using traffic cameras, repealed the 2016 “Death with Dignity Act” that allows physicians to assist terminally-ill people in ending their lives, prevented D.C. from implementing a law that would ban right turns on red, and changed D.C.’s gun laws.

 

On March 23, 2024, the FY 2024 D.C.-related appropriations process ended when the FY2024 Consolidated Appropriations Act became P.L. 118-47 law. That law is the public law for the enactment of H.R. 2882, which included D.C.-related appropriations.

 

P.L. 118-47 had two D.C.-related sections in Division B-Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, 2024: Title IV-District of Columbia and Title VIII—General Provisions—District of Columbia. Title IV provides “federal payment” to D.C. for various purposes, including “TESTING AND TREATMENT of HIV/AIDS” (On March 2, 2024, DCNOW happened to publish its “DCNOW Endorses 14th International Workshop on HIV & Women” piece, which discussed HIV/AIDS in the nation’s capital.).

 

Title VIII contains a variety of parts, but not the particularly granular anti-D.C. riders that had been proposed. It includes the following marijuana and abortion-related riders:

Sec. 809. (a) None of the Federal funds contained in this Act may be used to enact or carry out any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.) or any tetrahydrocannabinols derivative.

(b) No funds available for obligation or expenditure by the District of Columbia government under any authority may be used to enact any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.) or any tetrahydrocannabinols derivative for recreational purposes.

Sec. 810. No funds available for obligation or expenditure by the District of Columbia government under any authority shall be expended for any abortion except where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term or where the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.

Title VIII also includes the following segments:

Sec. 807. None of the Federal funds contained in this Act may be used to distribute any needle or syringe for the purpose of preventing the spread of blood borne pathogens in any location that has been determined by the local public health or local law enforcement authorities to be inappropriate for such distribution.

Sec. 808. Nothing in this Act may be construed to prevent the Council or Mayor of the District of Columbia from addressing the issue of the provision of contraceptive coverage by health insurance plans, but it is the intent of Congress that any legislation enacted on such issue should include a “conscience clause” which provides exceptions for religious beliefs and moral convictions.

This title’s Sect. 806 prohibits D.C. using federal money from this law to “provide assistance for any petition drive or civil action which seeks to require Congress to provide for voting representation in Congress for the District of Columbia.”

 

Let’s build off the positive momentum from these D.C. appropriations victories. Just as the new anti-D.C. riders did not become law, the other pending anti-D.C. legislation should also fail. Success breeds success.

 

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