D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (WI file photo)
D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (WI file photo)

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton said Monday that President Joe Biden’s fiscal 2023 budget includes “several significant victories for the District of Columbia” that she requested.

The venerable D.C. congresswoman said the victories include increasing the maximum annual award and lifetime cap for the D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant Program (DCTAG).

The budget proposal would increase the maximum annual award from $10,000 to $15,000 and would increase the lifetime cap from $50,000 to $75,000, Norton said in a statement.

DCTAG makes up the difference for D.C. residents between in-state and out-of-state tuition at public institutions of higher education in the United States.

She noted the president’s wish list includes an additional $50 million for the construction of Howard University Hospital and lifts the restrictions that prevent Howard University from accessing the Historically Black College & University (HBCU) Capital Financing Program.

The budget earmarks $600,000 for the Major General David F. Wherley Jr. District of Columbia National Guard Retention and College Access Program, $8 million for DC Water, $5 million for HIV/AIDS testing, treatment and prevention in D.C., and $30 million for the D.C. Emergency Planning and Security Fund (EPSF), which pays for the increased cost of emergency and security planning related to the federal presence in D.C.

It also exempts the D.C. government from a federal government shutdown in fiscal 2023.

Norton has successfully lobbied for D.C. exempted from federal government shutdowns on an annual basis since the federal government shutdown in 2013.

She noted that the budget does not include the abortion rider, which currently prohibits D.C. from spending local funds on abortion services for low-income women.

It also increases the General Services Administration’s (GSA) portion for the DHS headquarters consolidation at St. Elizabeths from $253 million to roughly $380 million.

“I particularly appreciate that the Biden administration recognizes the importance of the DCTAG program for D.C. students and families and has included increases in the annual and lifetime awards,” Norton said. “The cost of college has increased dramatically, but the grants have not kept pace since Congress created the program in 1999.

“I am also pleased the budget includes my provision exempting the local D.C. government from federal government shutdowns, which I have gotten enacted every year since 2014,” she said. “I am particularly pleased by the administration’s decision to allocate an additional $50 million for a new Howard University Hospital and to lift the restriction that previously prevented Howard from accessing the HBCU Capital Financing Program.”

The budget would also increase the GSA’s portion for consolidation of the Department of Homeland Security headquarters at St. Elizabeths by roughly $127 million, from $253 to $380 million, Norton stated.

However, Norton expressed disappointment that the budget maintains the rider that prohibits D.C. from spending its local funds on recreational marijuana commercialization despite her meeting with senior administration officials and advocating for its removal.

The budget also cut funding for the D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant Program by 50 percent overall, a change Norton did not support.

“I have a hard time reconciling the administration’s strong support for D.C. statehood, which would give D.C. not only voting representation in Congress but also full local self-government, with a budget that prohibits D.C. from spending its local funds on recreational marijuana commercialization,” Norton said. “With Democrats controlling the White House, House, and Senate, we have the best opportunity in over a decade to enact a budget that does not contain any anti-home-rule riders.

“I am also disappointed by the 50 percent cut to funding for the DCTAG program and that the budget did not include language on winding down D.C.’s private school voucher program, which has failed to increase academic achievement, as measured by reading and math test scores,” she said. “I got the DCTAG program enacted in 1999 because D.C. students do not have access to the same network of in-state schools as residents of the states.”

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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