Vince Gray: Bring Me Obama!
The federal shutdown has had an unusually small impact on the District's local government, thanks to Mayor Vince Gray's decision to fund operations out of city's $144 million rainy day fund. The city has even been filling in for the feds in some places, but the fund's starting to run out. In a letter to President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Gray says he wants to meet with each of them to talk about the shutdown.
"I request an immediate meeting with each of you to explain why Congress must pass, and the President must sign, emergency legislation exempting the District from the federal government shutdown," Gray writes in his letter, which is embedded below.
Of course, the House has already passed legislation to appropriate money for the District, only to see it blocked by Senate Democrats, an unusual role reversal on District autonomy that puts Gray, a Democrat, in an awkward position. Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, wouldn't rule out a mayoral meeting with Gray, but suggested his time would be better spent elsewhere.
"I think Mayor Gray ought to concentrate on getting Sen. Reid to pass it and President Obama to sign it," Steel writes in an email.
Still, Gray writes that he's looking forward to meeting with all three men, especially since the contingency fund is getting closer to running out. Just when the money will stop isn't clear, even as the District puts some payments on hold. Mayoral spokesman Pedro Ribeiro tells LL that the funds should keep the District afloat for at least another week-and-a-half.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery