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Florida congressman compares D.C. government to teenagers

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Politics,Local,Congress,DC,Alan Blinder

A Florida congressman angered District leaders on Thursday when he equated the city's push for expanded authority to control its own budget to the pleas of his children when they were teenagers seeking greater leverage.

"When my kids were young -- teenagers -- they wanted budget autonomy, too," Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., told WTTG-TV. "You allow them to go their own way. When they get out of line, according to the Constitution, the Congress has the right to step in."

District officials, who have said in recent months that the city's relationship with Congress appeared to be thawing, were flabbergasted.

"To compare the District to children is both absurd and arrogant," said Pedro Ribeiro, Mayor Vincent Gray's spokesman. "Last time I checked, children don't have a $6 billion local budget."

And Kimberly Perry, executive director of the advocacy group DC Vote, blasted Mica's remarks.

"The residents of D.C. are Americans who pay federal taxes and fight and die in wars," Perry said. "They should be treated with respect. Rep. Mica's demeaning comments ignore a sad truth: The District manages the tax dollars of its residents better than most jurisdictions. Our federal budget problems are well-documented."

Mica made his comments two days after District voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the city's charter to allow D.C. leaders to spend local dollars without Capitol Hill's approval.

His comments could fuel local anxiety that congressional Republicans will mount an attempt to block the vote's effects.

It remains unclear, however, whether the GOP could muster enough support to torpedo the measure using a parliamentary tactic it has employed only three times in the city's history.

Although Republicans enjoy firm control of the House, Democrats hold a slim majority in the Senate. Both chambers would have to approve resolutions to stop the amendment from moving forward.

President Obama would also have to back such a measure, which appears unlikely after he included a call for local control of finances in his own budget proposal earlier this month.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District's nonvoting member of the House, has warned, though, that Republicans could use other approaches to prevent granting the city budget autonomy.

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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