Congresswoman: Budget Bears Bad News For Nation's Capital
MICHEL MARTIN, Host:
On NBC's "Meet the Press" this Sunday, House Budget Committee chairman - House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, said the $38 billion in cuts for this year were really a drop in the bucket and that Congress needs to cut back even more on spending.
PAUL RYAN: The president is proposing to keep government as large as it's ever been forever. We don't think the answer to prosperity is borrowing and spending more money. We've got to get our spending under control because that's the root cause of our problem. And, yes, if you get deficit reduction and the debt under control, that's going to help the economy today.
MARTIN: But first, to NPR's senior Washington editor, Ron Elving, who's here with me in the studio. Ron, thanks for joining us.
RON ELVING: Good to be with you, Michel.
MARTIN: Now, the shutdown was averted at literally the 11th hour on Friday night. What do we know about the negotiations? What led to the breakthrough of the logjam?
ELVING: And we don't know which ones are going to take what kind of a hit except that everything except defense is going to get a $1 billion haircut across all those programs. Then how that gets distributed beyond that is still kind of a mystery.
MARTIN: Later this week, the president is expected to lay out a plan for reducing the deficit. Now, earlier this year, we heard from this - a commission, a high-powered commission that he had assembled to advise him on this question. But then we heard very little after that. So do we know anything about what the president's going to say? Is he going to draw from the work of the commission that we've reported on earlier?
ELVING: The president did not fully embrace it, although he did take some elements of it into his own budget. And I think we may see more of it embraced on Wednesday night. I shouldn't say Wednesday night. We don't know if it's going to be afternoon or night.
MARTIN: This was mandated in this budget deal, as we understand it, and D.C. delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, who I should mention does get a vote in committee but does not have the right to vote on the House floor, is with us now to tell us more about it. Welcome back to you, as well. Thank you for joining us, once again.
ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON: Thank you, Michel.
MARTIN: They did not succeed, but they did reinstate a ban on the district using its own tax money to pay for abortions for poor women. Your office sent out a blistering statement about this over the weekend. What offends you the most about this deal?
HOLMES NORTON: So the social conservatives, having not been able to make inroads into Planned Parenthood, and let me say I am very glad they didn't, Planned Parenthood serves modest- and low-income women all across the district and across the country, apparently went for what they thought was the defenseless District of Columbia, even though Democrats control two-thirds of the elected leadership of the federal government.
MARTIN: Well, you wouldn't give us anything else on reproductive choice. You can surely give us the District of Columbia, because that's under your control. And they threw us away.
MARTIN: Her argument is that they threw the district under the bus, and I'd like to ask you: Why would they?
ELVING: But - and the same thing is true with the school voucher program. They have special powers over the district that date way back, as she said, into American history. So they threw that one in there knowing that it would be the sort of thing that they could negotiate for in the last moment.
EPA: Well, okay, you can go ahead and take that off the Endangered Species List. Really small things like that to the nation, but very important things to people who live in the District of Columbia.
HOLMES NORTON: Having given them that, to then give them the district - and we're still not clear, is it going to be even more that they give them in this package?
MARTIN: Let me ask you this. You've long advocated voting rights for the District of Columbia, which is to say at least a vote in the Congress, on the House floor. You are only - if the district were to have that, it would be only one vote. Why do you think that would have made a difference?
HOLMES NORTON: I don't claim that one vote could turn the tide. I do claim that it's shameful to have anything affecting the District of Columbia on the House floor when the member from the district has no vote whatsoever on that matter.
MARTIN: Do you feel there's any recourse in this case? I understand it's a bitter pill to swallow on a number of levels. And you also mentioned in your statement over the weekend that you were never consulted by anybody about this. No local official was. So is there any recourse?
HOLMES NORTON: We think that there is some - that they're trying to keep us from spending our own funds on abortion for poor women. Well, are they going to make that permanent? I mean, there are some things we need to talk about, and my own folks are going at 5 o'clock today in front of - D.C. residents, our local organization, D.C. Voters, have organized D.C. residents to come out and picket the Senate today at 5 o'clock. So people are up and fighting.
MARTIN: Ron Elving is NPR senior Washington editor. They were both here with us in our Washington, D.C. studio. I thank you both so much for joining us.
ELVING: Thank you, Michel.
HOLMES NORTON: Thanks.
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MARTIN: That's just ahead on TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin.
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