Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 25, 2014

Posts in "Eleanor Holmes Norton"

October 24, 2014

Gainer’s Capitol Fence Is Not a Popular Concept

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Securing the perimeter of the Capitol’s open campus is a challenge for Capitol Police. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The idea of building a security fence around the Capitol appears just as unpopular now as it was a decade ago, when then-Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer pitched the idea to Congress.

In 2004, House appropriators added language to the legislative branch appropriations bill to prohibit Capitol Police from spending public dollars on the project. At the time, amendment sponsor Sam Farr, D-Calif., said a fence “really hurt the image and understanding of what a democracy is all about.”

Gainer, who retired from his post as Senate sergeant-at-arms in the spring, is again talking about erecting a “tasteful fence” about a block around the Capitol that would allow people to get screened before entering the campus, but current law enforcement officials aren’t commenting and elected officials aren’t biting. Full story

October 9, 2014

Norton to GOP: Support Democracy for D.C., Not Just Hong Kong

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(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., is urging Republican senators who called on President Barack Obama to support the democracy movement in Hong Kong to also support democracy in D.C.

A bipartisan group of senators, including 10 Republicans and 11 Democrats, sent a letter to the president Thursday, urging Obama to “voice U.S. support for full democracy in Hong Kong.” The group included senators from both ends of the political spectrum who united to write, “[We] strongly support the Hong Kong people’s aspiration for universal suffrage and full democracy.”

In a statement issued later in the day, Norton applauded the show of support for those in Hong Kong fighting for democracy. However, she noted that all of the Republicans who signed the letter and were in the Senate in 2009 voted that year against granting D.C. voting rights on the House floor.

“I hope the Republican signatories recognize their inconsistency in supporting democracy abroad while actively opposing it in their own nation’s capital,” Norton said.

Norton is the District’s only official representative in Congress and she cannot vote on the House floor.

The D.C. statehood movement did reach a milestone in the Senate this year, with the first hearing on the subject in two decades. However, as Norton acknowledged after the hearing, achieving D.C. statehood in the gridlocked 113th Congress is very unlikely.

Correction:

An earlier version of this story misstated the number of Republicans who voted against D.C. voting rights in 2009.

Related Stories:

Senators to Obama: Do Something About Hong Kong

Holder Says It’s ‘Long Past Time’ for D.C. Voting Rights

D.C. Statehood Hearing Explores Other Options

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.

October 8, 2014

Krepp Campaign Tired of ‘Being Blown Off’ by Norton

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Krepp is challenging Norton to a public debate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call FIle Photo)

Congressional hopeful Tim Krepp has repeatedly called on Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., to participate in a debate before Election Day, so  far, to no avail.

The tour guide and historian, running as an independent, faces a steep uphill battle to unseat the 12-term congresswoman who won her seat in 2012 with 88.5 percent of the vote. Despite the challenge, Krepp hopes his message that it’s time for a change will resonate with D.C. voters. And one way to relay that message would be in a public debate.

“I felt like we were just kind of being blown off,” Krepp’s campaign manager Brian Pate told CQ Roll Call in a Tuesday phone interview. “I’ve never been contacted by the scheduler and it’s been almost four weeks. So I feel like we’re rapidly running out of time to have a debate.” Full story

September 30, 2014

Secret Service Takes Beating in Rare Recess Hearing (Video)

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Cummings and Issa greet Pierson. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson took a beating from nearly 20 House Oversight and Government Reform Committee lawmakers who traveled back to Washington for Tuesday’s rare, three-and-a-half hour recess hearing.

Droves of photographers packed into the panel’s Rayburn meeting room to capture Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., demanding succinct responses from Pierson about botched security and the Sept. 19 incident in which Iraq war veteran Omar J. Gonzalez jumped the White House fence and made it into the building.

“Ma’am, I want a short answer,” Issa challenged during the first round of questioning for the embattled director. “I have very little time. Was he in fact — the federal complaint said he was — he was in fact apprehended in one place. Isn’t it true he was apprehended further into the White House?”

Full story

September 29, 2014

D.C. to White House: Don’t Fence Us Out

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Norton toured the White House perimeter on Monday morning to examine recent security changes. (Photo courtesy of Norton’s office)

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton didn’t like the lay of the land during a Monday stroll down Pennsylvania Avenue.

“On my visit to the White House perimeter this morning, I saw the ugly barriers that keep people a few feet from the fence, with signs affixed to the barriers that said ‘Police Line, Do Not Cross,’” the D.C. Democrat said in a statement released on the eve of a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Secret Service protocol.

Since Omar J. Gonzalez scaled the north fence on Sept. 19 and ran 70 yards to the unlocked front doors of the White House, the House GOP has been increasingly critical of the agency. New revelations reported by The Washington Post on Sunday, including that it took four days to realize gunfire had struck the White House in 2011, have raised fresh concern. Meanwhile, District officials fear new policies that could be detrimental to D.C. Full story

September 26, 2014

Holder Says It’s ‘Long Past Time’ for D.C. Voting Rights

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Holder says there’s more work to be done on behalf of voting rights in D.C. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A day after announcing his exit, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. paid lip service to voting rights for residents of the District of Columbia.

Holder, who previously served as a D.C. Superior Court judge and U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, said the Justice Department would continue fighting “until all Americans have equal access to the ballot box,” during a speech to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.

“And when I talk about all who want to be heard in the halls of the federal government, I am including the more than 600,000 taxpayers, who, like me — like me, live in the District of Columbia and still have no voting representation in Congress,” Holder said Friday.

“We pay our taxes, we die in the Army, we have a great representative, and we do not have voting rights,” he continued. “It is long past time for every citizen to be afforded his or her full responsibilities as well as our full rights.”

Holder did not outline any specific actions he would take on behalf of D.C. as he waits for a successor to be confirmed, but the line drew a big round of applause.

During the speech, the nation’s first black attorney general reminisced about his earliest encounter with the CBC. Holder said he attended a caucus dinner with his aunt when he was a young lawyer “during my first days here in Washington, D.C.”

The New York City native moved to the District after graduating from Columbia Law School in 1976. He was assigned to the newly formed Public Integrity Section. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan nominated Holder to become an associate judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Five years later, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., recommended him to the Clinton administration to serve as the District’s top attorney.

Norton was among the Democrats congratulating Holder on six years of “outstanding work,” saying D.C. residents were especially proud of his tenure.

Related Stories:

Eric Holder Resigns With a Wink and a Nod

D.C. Statehood Hearing Explores Options

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.

September 23, 2014

Norton to Congress: Hands Off D.C.’s New Gun Law

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Norton vowed to defend D.C.’s narrowly crafted gun law. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Emergency legislation legalizing the carry of concealed handguns in the District cleared the D.C. Council unanimously on Tuesday afternoon, setting up a temporary “may-issue” permitting scheme.

Under the legislation, guns are not allowed near Congress. Guns are outlawed within 1,000 feet of any foreign dignitary or high-ranking federal official. They are also banned near the White House in Northwest Washington, in an area bound by Constitution Avenue, H Street and 15th and 17th streets, and on most federal property, including the Capitol grounds. The law puts into place many other requirements and restrictions.

Opponents like Alan Gura, the lawyer who argued against the city’s ban on handguns in Palmer v. District of Columbia, argue the law gives the Metropolitan Police Department too much subjective discretion over who will be able to carry a gun. Full story

September 22, 2014

Congress Weighs In on White House Breach

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(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After an intruder managed to get inside the White House on Sept. 19, members of Congress are seeking answers from Secret Service Director Julia Pierson.

The agency has indicated it is conducting a review following the arrest of Iraq war veteran Omar J. Gonzalez, 42, of Copperas Cove, Texas, who officials say climbed the north fence of the complex and bolted into the North Portico with a 3 1/2-inch serrated blade folding knife in his pocket. Technical and physical security, including staffing and threat assessment, will be assessed.

Disturbing new details emerged when Gonzalez appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola in District Court for the District of Columbia on Monday. According to federal prosecutors, Gonzalez was keeping 800 rounds of ammunition, two hatchets and a machete in his car, parked blocks from the White House. Also revealed Monday was a July 19 incident in Virginia, when Gonzalez was arrested while carrying a sawed-off shotgun and map of Washington marking the location of the White House. Full story

September 18, 2014

Judicial Nomination Logjam Causes Dilemma for D.C.

With the flow of judicial nominations slowing to a trickle this summer, District of Columbia officials are becoming increasingly concerned about the effect on the local bench.

Chief Judge Lee F. Satterfield last week wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid describing the “adverse impact” of the backlog. Facing three judicial vacancies on the D.C. Superior Court, and a fourth coming in November, Satterfield requested votes on pending nominations before Congress adjourns.

The Nevada Democrat’s office has not responded formally to the Sept. 10 letter, according to Leah H. Gurowitz, director of governmental affairs and public relations for the court. Despite the correspondence, first reported by Legal Times, the chamber appears poised to adjourn without considering the nominations. Reid’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the situation. Full story

September 17, 2014

Critics of Washington Team Name Target NFL Nonprofit Status (Video)

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Cantwell, left, and McCollum, center, spoke at the Dirksen news conference with Native American leaders, calling on the Washington Redskins to change the name of the team. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The NFL, facing multiple public relations fiascos regarding domestic violence issues, can expect some more heat coming its way from Congress as Native American groups and members from both chambers are promising a multipronged attack to pressure Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder to change his team’s name.

Native American leaders visiting Capitol Hill for a two-day tribal unity and legislative impact event rallied behind Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and two House members during a Tuesday event in the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Cantwell nodded solemnly as Oneida Nation representative Ray Halbritter vowed, “as the NFL [season] continues, our efforts will only intensify.” Activists applauded minutes later when Cantwell announced she would introduce legislation to eliminate the league’s tax-exempt status, effectively sacking some of the $10 billion it generates annually in profits. Full story

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