D.C. budget autonomy lawsuit arguments set to begin Wednesday

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Oral arguments are underway in a lawsuit that's pitting one branch of District of Columbia government against another.

Attorney General Irvin Nathan will argue against lawyers for the D.C. Council in U.S. District Court on Wednesday. Nathan represents Mayor Vincent Gray, who was sued by the Council over his refusal to follow a referendum that proponents say gives the city control over its local tax dollars.

The District government can't spend money without authorization by Congress. Both Gray and the council support what's known as budget autonomy, but the mayor believes the referendum doesn't give him that power. It was approved by voters last year and added to the city charter after Congress didn't intervene. But the investigative arm of Congress has said it has "no legal effect."

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