Norton Cites ‘Headway’ on D.C. Vote Gun Amendment

Posted January 20, 2010 at 2:30pm

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) expressed optimism Wednesday that the D.C. House Voting Rights Act would move to the House floor “within the coming weeks,— citing recent “headway— made on a gun amendment that has stalled the bill’s passage.

“We’re very close to a bill we think we can carry to the floor,— she said, citing positive progress made on the contentious gun issue.

The voting rights act — which would give the District a voting Representative — has been stalled in the House since March because of the poison-pill gun amendment. As written, the provision would strike down many of D.C.’s strict gun laws and even allow residents to own guns such as AK-47s.

In June, voting rights advocates decided to put the bill on hold rather than compromise on the provision. But their goal of getting a clean bill has proven difficult. Pro-gun lawmakers, under pressure from the National Rifle Association, are unwilling to consider an amendment-free bill, and efforts to attach the voting rights act to must-pass appropriations bills have failed.

Norton made her comments Wednesday outside of the National Postal Museum, where she and a cadre of supporters from the advocacy group DC Vote joined forces to mail more than 41,000 signatures to the White House imploring President Barack Obama to include supportive remarks about the voting rights act in his upcoming State of the Union address.

“In case his speechwriters need any help, we’ve got a few lines for them,— she joked.

Although he voted for the bill as a Senator, President Obama has yet to use a public forum to weigh in on it.

Norton said it’s time for Obama to use his bully pulpit to “call out Congress— and make the disenfranchisement of D.C. residents known to the rest of the country.

“It would be a shame to let such an occasion go by,— she said.

The 12 hefty boxes of petitions — marked “priority mail— — were sent directly to the White House at a cost of $186.40.

Emily Yehle contributed to this report.