Washington mayor arrested in budget protest

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Washington Mayor Vincent Gray was arrested on Monday on Capitol Hill while protesting the city’s potential loss of funds for abortion services in the federal budget deal that averted a government shutdown, city hall and Capitol police said.

Gray said the deal that would cut $38 billion in federal spending for the rest of the 2011 fiscal year violates the rights of residents of Washington, which comes largely under Congress’ jurisdiction.

The measure includes a ban against using local and federal funding for abortion in Washington.

“This is an absolute travesty. D.C. deserves to be free,” Gray said during the protest, according to a statement released by city hall. “All we want to do is spend our own money.”

“Why should women in the District of Columbia be subjected to a set of rules that no other woman is subjected to?,” Gray said.

The mayor was among 41 people that included several city council members arrested and charged with blocking a street near a Senate office building, the Capitol Police said.

The federal budget deal, which is slated to be voted on by Congress this week before going to President Barack Obama for his signature, prevented a shutdown that would have idled 800,000 federal workers, closed national parks and monuments and delayed paychecks for troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

(Reporting by JoAnne Allen; editing by Philip Barbara)

Washington mayor arrested in budget protest