Mayor confronts Harry Reid

Mayor confronts Harry Reid

Posted in the Chicago Forum


East Saint Louis, IL

#1 Oct 10, 2013
It was a new public posture for an embattled mayor whose 2010 campaign remains under federal investigation — but who is now fighting to keep the District government in business by exempting it from the ongoing shutdown.


Members of Congress who’ve said they deserve their shutdown pay: Nearly half of the lawmakers have refused or donated their shutdown salaries, with many regarding it unseemly to collect a paycheck while their actions deprived more than 800,000 Americans of theirs. But some lawmakers have been vocal about their plans to keep their pay. Here are a few.
Why are some Republicans backing a clean continuing resolution to fund the government? In Play takes a closer look at the districts they represent for clues.
Why are some Republicans backing a clean continuing resolution to fund the government? In Play takes a closer look at the districts they represent for clues.

“Sir, we are not a department of the government,” the mayor told Reid after concluding his news event and then crashing another about 50 yards away, where Reid and other Senate Democrats were talking to reporters.“We’re simply trying to be able to spend our own money.”

Reid (Nev.) responded defensively in front of a bank of cameras and reporters:“I’m on your side. Don’t screw it up, okay? Don’t screw it up.”

The tension came after the Republican-controlled House voted last week to pass a bill allowing the District to use its locally raised tax funds to maintain operations until Dec. 15. Democrats, including Reid and President Obama, have held fast in opposition to piecemeal funding bills, saying Republicans must come to a deal to fund the entire government, not just favored segments.

But the national Democrats’ posture against a stand-alone District funding bill has stoked the flames of the city’s long-standing gripes about its treatment at the hands of Congress, which controls all District appropriations, even those related to locally generated tax receipts. It has placed leaders of the overwhelmingly Democratic city at odds with national politicians from their party, who have generally supported local priorities in the past but have on occasion sacrificed the city’s interests in national political fights.

The moment also raised new questions about Gray’s political future. He must decide in coming weeks whether he will seek a second term in 2014; his impassioned defense of the District on Wednesday offered new evidence that he continues to consider an electoral bid despite the ongoing federal corruption investigation into his 2010 campaign. Gray has not been charged and has denied any wrongdoing in the investigation, which centers on a D.C. businessman who allegedly funded a half-million-dollar shadow campaign on the mayor’s behalf.

The shutdown, meanwhile, gives the media — and the mayor — something else to talk about.

To manage the crisis — during which the District is unable to spend its roughly $6 billion in yearly local revenue — Gray and the D.C. government have tapped a $144 million contingency cash reserve fund to keep its 32,000 employees on the job since the federal shutdown took effect Oct. 1. But the city has frozen many of its outgoing payments to conserve the contingency account, which is expected to be exhausted sometime next week.

At their own news conference on the Capitol grounds Wednesday, Gray and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) highlighted the partisan contradictions while detailing the drastic effect of the cash crunch on the D.C. government — including schools, health care, services for the disabled and programs for senior citizens.

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