Ben Pershing
Washington Post
April 9, 2011

The spending deal agreed to Friday night to avert a government shutdown includes a provision banning the District from spending its own funds to provide abortions to low-income women as well as funding to continue a controversial school voucher program.

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The inclusion of the abortion policy “rider” represents a victory for Republicans, who previously imposed such a ban when they controlled Congress and who included the provision in the version of the continuing resolution passed by the House in February. And it marks a sharp defeat for D.C. leaders, who fought to keep the ban out of a deal.

The fate of one other D.C.-related provision — a House-passed ban on the city using its own money for needle-exchange programs — remained unresolved Friday night. Some policy riders in the final spending deal still must be negotiated between House and Senate Appropriations Committee members, including that one, which is strongly opposed by District leaders but supported by congressional Republicans.

Leading Democrats said repeatedly in the hours leading up to the deal that they would not accept a larger prohibition on federal funding for Planned Parenthood, and they appear to have been successful in that goal. But District activists have feared for weeks that Democrats might concede on the D.C. ban in order to pave the way for excluding the Planned Parenthood ban.

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