Budget Autonomy is No Longer a Battle, Since the Mayor Now Shares the Council’s View

In April of 2014, the Council of the District of Columbia took the rare step of suing the District’s mayor, urging that a publicly approved initiative providing the District with autonomy to spend its locally raised dollars be implemented immediately.

In two subsequent court appearances, the Council and the Mayor were legal adversaries.

However, due to the intervening November 2014 election, one member of the Council which had earlier unanimously supported suing the Mayor had subsequently become Mayor herself.  And while her role had changed, her position on the issue did not.

In a letter to Council Chair Phil Mendelson and the other members of the Council, Mayor Bowser stated, “Courts have no jurisdiction to rule on controversies that are not properly before them.  The District Court made its ruling in favor of a Mayor who is no longer in office, based on briefs arguing a position that is no longer the position of the Mayor of the District of Columbia.”

The initial brief filed by the Mayor with the court argued that the Chief Financial Officer, who was also sued by the Council initially, is no longer actively implicated in the case, and would not be except in a circumstance–“the existence of a budget enacted via the Budget Autonomy Act and not affirmatively approved by Congress—that may never come to pass.”

All that remains now is to see if the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia agrees to dismiss the case, and how the Mayor and Council proceed as they develop the first post-budget-autonomy budget in the District’s history.

To see the letter the Mayor sent to the Council on budget autonomy, please click here.

To see the Mayor’s initial court filing on the topic, please click here.

To see the Mayor’s subsequent court filing, please click here.