Washington (CNN) – If city leaders have their way, the nation’s capital will not come to a standstill if the federal government shuts down next week.
Mayor Vincent Gray told the White House on Wednesday that all city operations are essential and would continue if Congress fails to renew spending, which expires September 30.
Gray and the D.C. City Council are in unanimous agreement.
“The message that needs to be sent to the federal government is clear: ‘We’re ok. We don’t need your advice and we’re going to stay open,’” City Councilor David Grosso said.
Gray said in a statement the city is fully prepared to finance its programs in the event of a federal shutdown as it has balanced its budget for 18 consecutive years and has a “rainy-day” fund of more than $1 billion.
The fact that the district is a federal city and its budget and spending authority are tied to the congressional budget process is a point that irks officials and many residents.
“The D.C. budget is awaiting congressional approval as if it were a federal agency instead of an independent city of more than 600,000 residents,” Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat, said in a statement.
“The unique status of D.C. puts us in such a precarious situation,” Grosso said.
City voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum last year to give the city budget autonomy from the federal government.
A D.C. shutdown would impact day-to-day services, including libraries, motor vehicle departments, and traffic operations, including parking enforcement.
"The goal is not to anger Congress," Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said.
“The goal here is to continue to provide services to our constituents that the D.C. government can pay for and to make a point that the District shouldn’t be caught up in federal fights,” he said.
Mendelson says he will introduce a bill on Tuesday that would codify what the mayor and the council already agree on.
When asked if he thinks the measure will pass, Mendelson said he is not worried.
“All of the elected officials are on the same page,” he said.