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Is DC Prepared for Federal Funding Cutbacks?

Back on December 2nd we came across a story in the New York Times with the very disturbing headline, “Fearing Loss of U.S. Money Under Trump, New York Begins Urgent Review.”

Disturbing on a number of fronts, first because of its mention about Trump and sanctuary cities (ours is one of quite a few): “Mr. Trump has said he will cut financing to so-called sanctuary cities that move to protect undocumented immigrants or refuse to cooperate with federal deportation efforts.”

Secondly, when we read the next paragraph — “In response, Mayor Bill de Blasio . . . and the mayors of many other cities have adopted a defiant stance, saying they will not comply with demands to help identify or round up immigrants in this country illegally” — we realized that we had not yet then, nor even up to now, heard anything from our mayor about this gauntlet thrown down by Trump.

Are we simply to remain passive and let the feds send in their enforcers? Now, we do recognize the delicate position the District probably is in; after all, given that the Congress gave us Home Rule, it can just as easily take it away — especially this Republican-dominated one which has large numbers of members who  despise us citizens anyway. (Unfortunately, we don’t see much hope for rapprochement, especially since the feeling is for the most part seemingly mutual.)

Nevertheless, we thought it important to at least get some assurances that steps might even then, as in New York, were being taken to prepare for retribution in the form of a funds cut off or severe curtailment. On December 6th we did try to find out through the Council’s Committee on Finance and Revenue if the offices of the Mayor and of the Chief Financial Officer were on the case, as it were. Unfortunately we had no response then or even when we most recently renewed our request.

If no advance contingency planning has yet to be undertaken, we urge that relevant officials get cracking asap!

We also would like to know if DC finance officials have by now considered what steps they will take to mitigate the not improbable loss of revenue that supports expanded Medicaid in DC if Trump has his way and the Republican Congress gleefully proceeds with its pledge to “improve” (meaning gut) the program by repealing the Affordable Care Act — already underway as we type in these words.

How will the City Council ensure substitute funding is another question we have posed to the Council’s finance and revenue committee chairman, Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans. He has assured us he will respond and we will share his response with our readers.

As we were wrapping up our commentary we couldn’t stop thinking about the probability of how badly DC is likely to be treated by the Trump Administration and its fellow travelers, the Republicans in Congress, when we received word that the DC National Guard’s long-serving and by all accounts very able commander who served both through the Bush and Obama years, has been informed that as of 12:01 p.m. on Inauguration Day, he is fired!

Apparently, neither Trump nor his transition people seem to understand that Maj. Gen. Errol R. Schwartz will be dead center in command of a major military component of the security apparatus for the Inauguration — in addition to the thousands of his own troops on the streets, until 12 noon he will be commanding another 5,000 troops detailed from other National Guard units elsewhere in the U.S., plus being responsible for coordinating air support protecting the District. But, heck, guess the Trump people who are supposed to be involved with the security planning haven’t a clue about the stupidity of interfering in an on-going military deployment.

Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, whose ward includes the Capitol, reacted much as we have (though more diplomatically):  “I struggle to understand the benefit of removing a commanding officer while his troops are deployed throughout the District protecting the hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors. This serves only as a distraction to the men and women of the D.C. National Guard as they ramp up their preparations for the Inauguration.”