Government shutdown 2013: Mayor Gray warns D.C. running out of money

Mayor Gray, Eleanor Holmes Norton and other D.C. leaders called for Congress to let D.C. spend its money. Photo: Sam Ford

(WJLA) - D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray on Wednesday pushed Congress to end the government shutdown and give the district budget autonomy before the city faces dire problems.

Gray warned that city services, from sanitation to schools to police and fire firefighters, are in danger of ending because the city’s emergency funds are depleting.

“We need both houses of Congress and the president to act now to avert further consequences and negative impact on the District of Columbia” he said.

The D.C. Council approved use of emergency funds to keep the local government in operation during the shutdown. The city hasn't received authority yet to spend its own local funds for services.

Gray added that during the 1995 government shutdown, the District was exempt from it after five days. The current shutdown is now in its ninth day.

Shortly after Gray's press conference, Gray used a news conference held by Senate Democrats to make a personal appeal to Sen. Harry Reid to free the city's local funds from the federal budget battle.

In comments caught by a WRC-TV camera, Reid told the mayor, "I'm on your side. Don't screw it up."

Gray says he did not know what the majority leader's comment meant.

Gray on Tuesday asked for a meeting with President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner to discuss the impact of the shutdown on the district.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.