Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., will make a last-ditch effort Tuesday to demand a vote on the House floor in the Committee of the Whole.
In September, Norton testified in front of the House Rules Committee in favor of amending the House rules to allow delegates to vote. She also sent a letter to Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and Rules Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, in December asking that she be granted a vote, but to no avail. A draft of the House rules package expected to be approved Tuesday does not include a delegate vote. “I’ve gotten their rules; it’s not included in their rules,” Norton said at a briefing in the Cannon House Office Building on Monday. “My last chance is to go on the floor. I will demand a vote. I will get a vote.”
Norton said she plans to rise from her seat on the floor after the 114th Congress is sworn in, demanding a vote in the Committee of the Whole and challenging her Democratic and Republican colleagues to support her. “It will be virtually the first thing that happens,” she said about the timing of her demand.
The District representative, along with her fellow delegates, had a vote in the Committee of the Whole in the 103rd, 110th and 111th Congresses, when Democrats had the majority. But if a delegate’s vote was decisive, there would be an automatic revote, excluding the delegates. Despite the automatic revote provision, Norton insisted the vote was not just for show.
“This is not just symbolism; it means something to us,” Norton said.
“You know symbolism means something to us, too. It means something to us that we have a statue of Frederick Douglass that says District of Columbia on it,” she added, referring to the D.C. statue in the Capitol Visitor Center. “All those symbols mean that you are treated as other American citizens are.”
Mayor Muriel Bowser joined Norton Monday, in one of her first days on the job after taking the oath of office on Jan. 2.
“We are a free and deserving people. We want to do our part, we want to pay our taxes and we want to be full American citizens,” Bowser said. “And this is but one way, and the congresswoman is right, that this Congress can send the signal that they want to work together.”
Both Bowser and Norton were optimistic about working with the new GOP Congress, though Norton said she did not know whether any Republicans would support her as she calls for the delegate vote.
“We do not need to prejudge our Republicans, even those with the worst reputation,” Norton said. “And I have had the most surprising reactions from Republicans I have worked with who are very conservative on national matters, but have worked with me on matters affecting the District of Columbia.”
Norton Asks GOP Leaders for House Voting Privileges
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