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Norton: TSA Must Train Employees to Accept D.C. IDs

Washington, D.C., may not be a state, but the people who live in the nation’s capital deserve the same treatment as other American citizens when traveling within its borders.

That’s the message Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., is sending to Transportation Security Administration chief John S. Pistole, in a letter about a “bizarre and ludicrous” Presidents Day incident at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport.

After a TSA agent questioned the validity of D.C. resident Ashley Brandt’s license as identification, Norton wants to make sure all TSA employees are trained to treat registered District residents equally.

“While D.C. residents are undemocratically denied voting representation in the House and Senate and full control over their local laws and budget, our residents are American citizens who have all the other rights of citizens, including using D.C.-issued identification to travel by airplane,” Norton wrote in a letter circulated Thursday. “The undemocratic treatment of D.C. residents by Congress should never extend to similar treatment by federal employees.”

Brandt was eventually allowed to board the plane, once the TSA agent confirmed with a supervisor that the city’s ID cards could be accepted just like a license from any of the 50 states. A tweet from the incident went viral, prompting a Washington Post article that attracted comments from other D.C. residents who faced similar scrutiny when trying to fly.

Norton says she has since called Brandt “to apologize that a U.S. government employee would question the right of a resident of the nation’s capital to board an airplane.”

Joining Norton on the letter are delegates from American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, whose residents “have encountered similar indignities.”

Coincidently, Norton introduced a bill Thursday pushing to get the same District seal that appears on D.C. licenses installed in the stained-glass windows of the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building’s main reading room. The library currently displays the seals of all 50 states, plus the territories that existed when the building was constructed, except for the District’s seal.

Norton’s office is calling the bill another “necessary reminder to the nation of D.C.’s ongoing struggle for equality.”

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