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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

On The Hill: Norton Protests/Rallies To Keep DC Vote

The Congresswoman first secured a vote in the Committee of the Whole during the 103rd Congress, when Democrats were in the majority. Norton submitted a legal memorandum and obtained the right to vote in the Committee of the Whole for D.C residents who pay federal taxes without a vote in either congressional body.

Because D.C. had never voted on the House floor, Democrats vetted the issue with outside attorneys, and Republicans later lost a challenge to delegate voting in the federal courts. Delegate voting in committees has long been permitted by House Rules, and the Committee of the Whole is also a committee created by House rules.

When Republicans took control of Congress in 1995, however, they eliminated the delegate vote in the Committee of the Whole. In 2007, Democrats regained control of the House again and instituted the delegate vote again.

Because it had worked so well without controversy, Norton had hoped to retain the vote this time, even writing House Speaker John Boehner before the rules were published requesting that D.C.'s vote be maintained. After the draft of the new House rules was made public, she called Boehner's office to schedule a meeting with him, but without success.

Today on the Hill, Norton was joined by new DC mayor, Vincent Gray and others.   Norton commented on the support of Gray as follows:

"It was all hands on deck this morning, as Mayor Vincent Gray, only 2 days in office, spoke passionately at the DC Vote rally to maintain DC's vote in the Committee of the Whole. Very important that he was there to send the message that an attack on the vote we do have is an attack on the city itself. I especially appreciated his presence. After all, it is not my vote. I'm just the messenger. Showing up is a necessary part of winning in this business, so it was really good that I was not there by myself among city leaders. DC Vote provided most of the troops, who then went to lobby Members to save our vote. I hope you keep track of what's happening with this issue."

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