D.C. Mayor Could Be Arrested for Designating All Employees As Essential, Spending Money Congress Did Not Authorize

September 30th, 2013

I don’t see this happening:

The District of Columbia is still waiting to see if it will be allowed to keep city services running with an unusual gambit: declaring all city employees as “essential” workers.

Essential workers would stay on the job in the event of a government shutdown.

In past government shutdowns, some city services, including libraries, recreation centers and trash pickup, have been curtailed. The federal government has final say on how the District spends its money, even when that money is collected from local taxes — an issue that led to a successful, though toothless, referendum on the issue in April.

District Mayor Vincent Gray made the declaration Wednesday in a letter to the federal Office of Management and Budget. But it’s not clear how the federal government will respond; the White House Budget Office has the final say on the issue.

As of Monday morning, the OMB had not yet rejected the mayor’s declaration.

The good news is, the District has money on hand that’s already been authorized by Congress — enough to wait out a couple of weeks of a shutdown.

That reserve is a good thing, since D.C.’s attorney general has warned the mayor could be arrested for spending any money Congress hasn’t authorized.