District of Columbia--Local Budget Autonomy Amendment Act of 2012
B-324987: Jan 30, 2014
- Full Report:
In December 2012, the Council of the District of Columbia enacted the Local Budget Autonomy Amendment Act of 2012 (Budget Autonomy Act). The Mayor of the District of Columbia signed the measure in January 2013, and District voters approved it in April 2013. In the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, Congress established the District Government and delineated its budget process. Through the Budget Autonomy Act, the Council of the District of Columbia and District voters attempt to change the federal government's role in this budget process by removing Congress from the appropriation process of most District funds and by removing the President from the District's budget formulation process.
We conclude that provisions of the Budget Autonomy Act that attempt to change the federal government's role in the District's budget process have no legal effect. The District of Columbia Home Rule Act, as well as the Antideficiency Act and the Budget and Accounting Act, serve and protect Congress's constitutional power "to exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever" over the District, as well as its constitutional power of the purse. We conclude, therefore, that without affirmative congressional action otherwise, the requirements of the Antideficiency Act continue to apply and District officers and employees may not obligate or expend funds except in accordance with appropriations enacted by Congress. The District Government also remains bound by the Budget and Accounting Act, which requires it to submit budget estimates to the President.
In this opinion we express no views on the merit of greater budget autonomy for the District; it is a matter that rests with the Congress.