Senate subcommittee approves bill giving D.C. budget, legislative autonomy

WASHINGTON (WJLA/AP) - A Senate subcommittee has approved a major spending bill that would grant D.C. full control over its local budget and laws, and Mayor Vincent Gray said it's about time.

"What this does is signal progress for the District of Columbia, our 647,000 citizens being able to do what every other city, and county, and state in America does and that is approve its own laws," Gray said Friday during an interview on NewsChannel 8's NewsTalk program.

The Senate appropriations bill that was released publicly on Thursday represents a stark contrast to a spending bill approved by the House in terms of its effect on the District. The House version would invalidate the city's strict gun-control policies and bar the District from liberalizing its marijuana laws.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat who represents the District in Congress, said the Senate version represents the first time an appropriations bill has given both budget and legislative autonomy to the District.

"The one thing we demand is equal treatment," she said in an impassioned speech on the House floor Friday."Two states have legalized marijuana we will not be treated differently than any other state in the union - we shall not."

The ultimate fate of the District-related language will likely be decided in negotiations between the House, Senate and White House.

Gray said he hopes that those on both sides of the aisle can come together and help D.C.

"While we are the world's greatest democracy, it is an embarrassment to that the DC is an example of not being a democracy. Often been a partisan vote," he noted.