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Posts in "Eleanor Holmes Norton"
November 26, 2014
Outgoing Rep. Steve Stockman is trying to leave his mark on Washington residents before he heads back to Texas by using his seat in Congress to intervene in local policy on guns and traffic.
With a handful of weeks left in his term, the Republican introduced bills to mandate a public firearm range in the District of Columbia and prohibit the city from using automated speed and traffic cameras.
Stockman’s gun legislation comes about a month after the city enacted a system to begin issuing concealed carry permits, in response to a federal judge’s ruling. The July 26 order briefly wiped D.C.’s ban on carrying handguns from the books, something Republicans on Capitol Hill tried to do over the summer with an appropriations rider. The D.C. Council is putting the finishing touches on a more permanent solution that would maintain strict gun control standards.
Stockman’s traffic camera proposal is similar to that by another short-timer in Congress: Michigan Republican Kerry Bentivolio, a freshman heading home at the end of this session. Bentivolio sought co-sponsors for a similar bill last year, but it was never introduced. Stockman’s proposal is more broad. In addition to targeting the District, it would cut certain federal highway funds from any state or local government that uses automated traffic enforcement systems.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., caught wind of Stockman’s attempt to curtail traffic cameras and accused both Republicans of bullying the District.
“These two Members, on their way out of Congress, have turned their focus away from their own constituents,” Norton said in a statement. “So, free from accountability to their own residents, they are making a last ditch attempt to secure a legacy on the backs of District of Columbia residents.”
Stockman did not respond to requests for comment about the legislation.
Stockman might still be seeing more of D.C. than he would like. He and three of his staffers were recently subpoenaed by a federal grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Stockman has been under scrutiny for campaign contributions from his staff.
Correction: This story has been updated to accurately state that District law banned the carrying of handguns in public, after the Heller vs. DC ruling in 2008.
November 14, 2014
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., and a few lawmakers from pot-friendly states, have high hopes that the House will not try to stop the District of Columbia from legalizing marijuana for recreational use — but the rest of the chamber isn’t ruling out the possibility of intervention.
One of D.C.’s chief allies in Congress, Rep. José E. Serrano of New York, predicted “rough times ahead” for the District when it comes to appropriations riders, the tool Republicans usually use to sink social policies ranging from needle exchanges to abortions. When the senior House Democrat served as chairman of the subcommittee that oversees D.C.’s local spending he successfully eliminated all riders, but he forecasted challenges in the next Congress with the GOP in control of both chambers.
House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., said, “it’s all on the table,” when pressed on whether a pot rider would appear. Full story
November 12, 2014
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., introduced a bill Wednesday that would eliminate the tax-exempt status for the National Football League, saying it benefits from promoting a “racial slur.”
Norton points to the Washington Redskins name as the reason that the NFL should no longer be exempt from taxes. Her bill already has a Senate counterpart, introduced by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.
“American taxpayers have been subsidizing a multi-billion dollar league that promotes what has now been officially found to be a racial slur for profitable gain,” Norton said in a her introductory statement. “Relief from taxes should no longer be given to a league that profits from the continued use of a racial slur, which degrades some Americans.”
The bill reignites a congressional fight over the NFL, which picked up steam in September amid domestic violence issues and increasing calls for the District of Columbia football team to change its name. Given the impending end of the 113th Congress, the bill is unlikely to receive much action.
Norton pointed out that over the summer, the United States Patent and Trademark Office determined the name was offensive and set in motion a process to eliminate federal trademark protections for the football team.
“While the ruling did not persuade [Redskins owner] Daniel Snyder or [NFL commissioner] Roger Goodell to change the name, the ruling has the potential to affect the profits received from the sale of the team’s merchandise,” said Norton.
As the District of Columbia’s non-voting delegate, Norton has the power to introduce bills, but she cannot vote on the House floor.
November 6, 2014
Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser traveled to Capitol Hill Thursday afternoon to meet with Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., and discuss how they will coordinate with each other and lawmakers in the new Republican-controlled Congress.
After the meeting, Bowser and Norton spoke briefly with reporters, and were optimistic about accomplishing District of Columbia priorities despite challenges with a wider GOP majority in the House and a Republican Senate.
“Knowing that there will be more Republicans here tells you nothing,” Norton told a group of reporters in her Rayburn office. “I got more done when Newt Gingrich was here than I think I’ve gotten under perhaps almost any speaker here. So you just can’t tell. And the way we’ve gotten it done is by working very closely with the mayor.”
Norton said their first priority would be passing a D.C. appropriations bill. The current continuing resolution funding the government expires Dec. 11.
The congresswoman said she was optimistic a clean appropriations bill, free of any policy riders, would pass, despite opposition to the recent legalization of marijuana in the District. Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., has said he will work to halt legalization.
“I’ve already gotten decriminalization through,” said Norton. “We still have the same makeup that we had at that time, so I would say prospects are good.”
Over the summer, the District decriminalized marijuana, making possession a civil offense subject to a fine. Harris had also attempted to block decriminalization by attaching an amendment to the appropriations bill, but the spending bill ultimately passed without his amendment.
Norton and Bowser both stressed that close collaboration between their offices will be key to advocating for the District on Capitol Hill. Their meeting Thursday was Norton’s idea and Bowser said she hoped to gain a better understanding of D.C.-Hill relations with the new Congress.
“I also wanted [Norton] to give me her analsysis of how the District is going to work with the new Congress,” said Bowser. “And how those committees may lay out and make sure that we’re working hand in hand to establish those relationships.”
Norton and Bowser clasped each others’ hands at one point, showing that they are a united front.
“I want you guys to get used to two women being in charge now,” said Norton.
November 5, 2014
The Republican wave didn’t crash in the District of Columbia, but that doesn’t mean the victors won’t have to contend with the GOP Congress.
As local Democrat Muriel Bowser celebrated a double-digit victory in the mayoral contest over independent challenger David Catania, she also took time to speak with Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., about the makeup of the House and Senate.
Bowser has promised statehood and legislative autonomy would both be priorities when working with Capitol Hill, and told CQ Roll Call she supported the D.C. Council’s attempt to force Mayor Vincent Gray and Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey S. DeWitt to comply with the local Budget Autonomy Act via the court system.
“Well I supported the council’s action in that,” Bowser said Tuesday. “I would expect that to be my policy as well.”
That might put her at odds with the newly elected top lawyer in the District, though. Voters chose veteran attorney Karl A. Racine to serve as the city’s first elected attorney general, who said the lawsuit is “not a winning case” during an Oct. 23 debate. The former associate White House counsel under President Bill Clinton defeated Paul Zukerberg, the attorney who appealed to the courts to get the race on the ballot, and three other candidates who also ran as Democrats. Full story
October 27, 2014
President Barack Obama welcomes one of the spunkiest centenarians in the District of Columbia to the Oval Office for a private Monday afternoon meeting.
World War II veteran Alyce Dixon, who turned 107 on Sept. 11, will sit down with Obama and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C. According to the congresswoman’s office, veterans and D.C. statehood are on the agenda, but Dixon is sure to crack a few jokes. The quick-witted Washingtonian is widely known for her sense of humor, on display in a 2012 profile by the Army and .https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4-DUpMGcHg
Dixon was born in Boston in 1907, the third-oldest of nine children. Her family moved to Washington in 1924, and Dixon briefly attended Howard University. In her 20s, she worked at the Lincoln Theatre on U Street Northwest, serving as a secretary then a cashier. From 1940 to 1943, she worked as one of the first civilian employees at the Pentagon.
Dixon joined the Army in 1943, among the first African-American women in the nation to enlist. She served in England, France and Scotland. Her unit was tasked with eliminating floor-to-ceiling stacks of undelivered mail and packages addressed to U.S. servicemembers but stored in foreign warehouses. They cleared the mail backlog in record time, and Dixon was awarded a medal for good conduct, according to the D.C. Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs.
After her service, Dixon returned to the Pentagon. She retired after 35 years with the federal government, and continued to volunteer around the city. Her humor is a hit with staff at the V.A. medical center in Northwest Washington.
“She has the unique ability to bring joy to others, and is known especially for her bubbly personality and comedic storytelling,” Norton said in a 2011 House floor speech commemorating Dixon’s birthday.
October 24, 2014
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
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.
An earlier version of this story misstated the number of Republicans who voted against D.C. voting rights in 2009.
October 8, 2014
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 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?”