WASHINGTON -- The House narrowly approved legislation yesterday that would give the District of Columbia about $720 million of federal aid in fiscal 1995, but would also require the district to cut its budget by $150 million.
The proposal requiring the $150 million budget cut was added to the appropriations bill at the last minute as a compromise designed to stave off efforts by some lawmakers to cut the district's fiscal 1995 appropriation.
Forcing the budget cuts "was certainly not the most desirable thing to do," said Rep. Julian Dixon, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee's subcommittee on the District of Columbia. "But it was a necessary step to keep this bill moving."
The appropriations measure, which passed on a 213-1o-210 vote, still must be considered by the Senate. It includes the 1995 federal payment to the district of $668 million and the annual federal contribution to the district pension fund of $52 million.
District officials have been under considerable pressure to come up with more fiscal 1995 spending cuts to appease members of Congress who have been concerned about the findings of a recent General Accounting Office report on the district's finances.
With district officials balking at further cuts and some House lawmakers agitating for a decrease in the federal payment, subcommittee leaden said they had no choice but to fashion the compromise proposal that requires the district government to cut spending by $150 million in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.
The district's representative in Congress, Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, said she reluctantly supported the compromise because the alternative, a cut in the federal payment, "would have sent the district right over the side into insolvency."
-- Joan Pryde