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Norton Introduces Trio of D.C. Voting Rights Bills

One week after the House voted to strip Delegates of their votes in the Committee of the Whole, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) continued to fight the uphill battle to give Washingtonians greater representation in Congress.

She introduced three bills Wednesday: the New Columbia Admission Act, which would make the District the 51st state; the District of Columbia Equal Representation Act, which would give the District one seat in the House and two in the Senate; and the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act, which would give the District one seat in the House.

“In introducing these bills, we lay down a marker of our determination to never relent or retreat until we have obtained each and every right to which we are entitled, whether through the frustration and anguish of the incrementalism that Congress has always forced upon us or with the full and complete set of rights, which would be achieved through statehood,” she said while introducing the legislation on the House floor.

But even Norton isn’t holding her breath. Considering that the Republican majority questions the constitutionality of giving voting rights to Delegates and frowns on D.C. statehood, the three bills seem more symbolic than anything else.

“In this Congress, no voting rights bill is possible for D.C.,” she told Roll Call. “The process of introducing legislation, even when you can’t get it to the floor, is to reflect the will of the constituents.”
 
At a Jan. 4 meeting of the Council of the District of Columbia, Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. introduced a resolution that urged Norton to fight for D.C. statehood, which all of the councilmembers supported. She seems to have taken their suggestion to heart.

“There is recognition and realism that this won’t pass,” she said, “but defiance in the introduction of all these bills. ... They can keep [these bills] from being debated, but that doesn’t mean we won’t talk about them on the floor.”

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