Catania appeals to House Appropriations Committee
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Catania appeals to House Appropriations Committee

September 10, 2001

Rep. C. W. "Bill" Young
House Appropriations Committee
H-218 The Capitol
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington DC 20015

RE: FY 2002 District of Columbia Appropriations Bill

Dear Chairman Young:

As the House Appropriations Committee considers the FY 2002 District of Columbia Appropriations bill, I want to relay to you some of my concerns and request that you and the Committee make some necessary adjustments to it at the full Committee level. I also hope you will support efforts to delete the unnecessary social riders that were attached to the District's budget.

First, I must commend D.C. Appropriations Chairman Joe Knollenberg for not including some of last year's non-controversial general provisions in this year's bill. Many of these provisions were outdated, became part of permanent law, or were clearly one time items. I am also pleased with the nearly $400 million in federal funds included in the budget.

I am, however, troubled with the Subcommittee's decision to overturn, in many instances, local D.C. provisions that had been agreed to by the Mayor and the Council in our 2002 budget request such as minimum funding levels for salaries in support of 3,800 police officers and funding levels for the Addiction Recovery Fund, including a portion for TANF recipients. I hope that these provisions and others will be placed back into our locally funded budget.

I must also state my opposition to the provision included in the bill that allows the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOCA) for the District of Columbia to acquire land on the campus of the former D.C. General Hospital for a halfway house. This issue has been debated on the local level, and District leaders have agreed as part of our budget (which the Subcommittee summarily deleted) that no building on that tract of land be constructed for CSOSA until the Mayor has submitted a plan to the Council for their approval. We do not understand why the Congress would choose to become involved in yet another local matter, and directly contradict an agreement that was carefully reached between the Mayor and the Council which reflects the will of the District's people.

Lastly, I would like to address the issue of the general provisions added to the bill. While I would hope that all of them would be deleted, I would like to highlight two that will most likely be addressed by the full Committee.

Domestic Partnership: Like over a hundred of local and state jurisdictions around the country, the District of Columbia has enacted a Domestic Partnership program which allows non-married couples living together to register as domestic partners. Under the program, D.C. employees with a domestic partner can purchase health insurance at their own cost, and it allows public employees to take family and medical leave to care for a domestic partner. It also establishes visitation rights for registered domestic partners at hospitals and nursing homes. Unfortunately, the Congress has prevented the District from spending any of its own funds to administer this simple humanitarian program. In full Committee, an amendment will be offered to allow the District to spend the limited necessary funds to carry out the program. I hope you will support this amendment.

Needle Exchange: Sadly, the District has one of the highest incidents of HIV infection in the nation with over one-third of these infections caused by contaminated needles. In order to prevent the transmission of HIV, over 130 needle exchange programs have been set up throughout the country, including one in the District. Unfortunately, Congress has singled out the District and has prevented us from funding our own needle exchange program. A privately funded program is struggling to survive. Additionally, last year, Congress placed over burdensome reporting requirements and operation restrictions on the privately funded program. Much to his credit, Chairman Knollenberg did not include these new provisions in this year's budget, although he did continue the local funding ban. I would hope you would oppose any effort to add these or any other restrictions back into the bill (which even President Bush deleted from the budget) and support any effort to lift the local funding ban.

Finally, I would ask you to oppose any other restriction on the District's local budget that may be proposed in full Committee. I thank you for your attention to these matters, and welcome any questions or comments that you may have. Please feel free to contact me at 202/724-7772. Thank you very much.


David A. Catania
Councilmember (R- At-Large)

cc: Rep. David Obey, Ranking Member
Rep. Joe Knollenberg, DC Chairman
Rep. Chaka Fattah, DC Ranking Member
House Appropriations Committee Members
Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton
Mr. James Dyer, Majority Staff Director
Mr. Migo Miconi, DC Majority Staff Director
Mr. Tom Forhan, DC Minority Professional Staff