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In Weekly Radio Address, Mayor Gray Explains His Decision to Declare All District Government Operations Essential

Sunday, September 29, 2013

In Weekly Radio Address, Mayor Gray Explains His Decision to Declare All District Government Operations Essential

Mayor decries fact that the District is treated like a federal agency during shutdown

(Washington, DC) – In his weekly radio address this week, Mayor Vincent C. Gray explained his decision to determine that all District government operations are essential to protecting public health, safety and property during any federal government shutdown.

The broadcast can be heard on All News 99.1-FM WNEW radio beginning at 10:05 am on Sunday, September 29. The text of the address is below:

Remarks of Mayor Vincent C. Gray

Weekly Radio Address

All News 99.1-FM WNEW

Sunday, September 29, 2013

 

Hello, WNEW listeners! I’m Vincent C. Gray, Mayor of the District of Columbia. Last Wednesday afternoon, I sent a letter to Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Director of the federal Office of Management and Budget, informing her that, in the event of a shutdown of the federal government, I have determined that all operations of the District government are essential to maintaining public health and safety.

Therefore, all District government operations will continue and our employees will report to work even if we go into the new federal fiscal year on Tuesday, October 1, with Congress still unable to reach an agreement over federal spending.

You might wonder why the Mayor of the District of Columbia would even be required to explain our plans for a federal shutdown. After all, the District’s budget is no different than that of any other state. While we receive some funding through the federal government for things like highway construction, education and Medicaid, almost everything else we spend comes from our own locally-raised tax dollars.

But, because of the unique lack of autonomy under which the District continues to operate, we are treated like a federal agency when it comes to a federal shutdown.

It is ridiculous that a city of 632,000 people – a population larger than that of the states of Wyoming and Vermont – is treated this way. We have balanced our budget for 18 consecutive years and have well over a billion dollars in the bank, yet we cannot spend our own money to provide our residents with the services they’ve paid for unless we get permission from a Congress that can’t even agree to pay its own bills.

Why on Earth should they have any say in how we handle our finances? Why should we be made to suffer at the hands of an irresponsible Congress when Congress should be the ones taking lessons from us on fiscal responsibility?

I cannot and will not stand idly by and let the safety and well-being of District residents be compromised by the dysfunction of Congress. That’s why, come Tuesday, police officers and firefighters will continue keeping the city safe, trash will continue to be picked up, the Department of Motor Vehicles will continue to offer services to the public, and all other District government workers will show up at their place of business and continue working for you, the taxpayer. Because they are essential!

The most unjust part of this entire affair is the fact that our own Congresswoman, Eleanor Holmes Norton, is not even allowed to vote on whether the federal government stays open. No other jurisdiction in this great country is taxed by the federal government and expected to send its sons and daughters off to war without voting representation in Congress. Sadly, residents of the District of Columbia find ourselves in this unfair and unconscionable position every day, and our nation’s leaders continue to turn a deaf ear.

I’m fed up with that, and I hope you will join me in bringing the nation’s attention to this continued injustice.

Thank you for listening. I’m Vincent C. Gray, Mayor of the District of Columbia.