DC Mayor Vincent Gray has declared all District government personnel "essential" during a potential shutdown of the federal government. The idea came at the urging of several members of the District Council, who encouraged the mayor to considering keeping the District government open and operating.
Gray sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget Wednesday announcing his plans.
“I have determined that everything the District government does – protecting the health, safety and welfare of our residents and visitors – is essential,” Gray said in a prepared statement.
The move is being called an act of defiance against Congress, which has final approval of how DC spends its money.
Gray's statement Wednesday continued:
“It is ridiculous that a city of 632,000 people – a city where we have balanced our budget for 18 consecutive years and have a rainy-day fund of well over a billion dollars – cannot spend its residents’ own local tax dollars to provide them the services they’ve paid for without Congressional approval. Congress can’t even get its own fiscal house in order; they should be taking lessons from us rather than imposing needless suffering on us. I will not allow the safety and well-being of District residents to be compromised by Congress’s dysfunction.”
Without Gray's move, District services would be curtailed.
The DC police, firefighters and public schools could remain open, but not much else.
Services like the DMV, parking tickets, business licensing and even trash collection would be halted or cut back considerably.
“Let’s do what the rest of this country is doing with respect to Congress: Ignore it,” said David A. Catania (I-At Large) according to The Washington Post.
As other members expressed support for the idea, Mayor Vincent Gray canceled a scheduled press conference about how to District government would operate during a federal government shut down.
Chairman Phil Mendelson said Tuesday that he will introduce an emergency measure next Tuesday that would declare all District of Columbia government essential.
D.C. Attorney General Irv Nathan warned that such a move could be seen as a violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act.
"I would point out they have taken oath to uphold the law, and if you engage in civil disobedience you have to take the consequences and the victims of the consequences could as well be the District," Nathan said, according to WAMU.