Holmes Norton is one of six delegates pushing to have the flags of the U.S. territories and the District of Columbia flown at all military ceremonies.
“How much could six extra flags cost?” Christensen asked on the House floor Wednesday, as the delegates gathered to speak on behalf of their cause. “It could not even be a fraction of a blip in the defense or the military budget.”
A House Republican aide with the House Armed Services Committee said he hadn’t heard cost to be an issue. He said the provision was not considered a high priority during the conference, and that some senators thought it was not an appropriate issue on which to legislate.
As amendments are offered to the 2013 defense authorization bill on the Senate floor and the bill heads to conference before the year’s end, it’s still possible for a happy ending for the House delegates. The District of Columbia in particular has its share of allies who could take up the cause, including the retiring chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Joseph I. Lieberman, I-Conn.
Lieberman supports the issue, said his spokeswoman Leslie Phillips. However, she added, “given the time left in the session and the amount of work still needed to be done, it is highly unlikely the senator will have the time to advocate strongly for this.”
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., who organized Wednesday’s presentation on the House floor, said she would continue fighting for the proposal’s inclusion in the final bill.
“I would ask the Undersecretary of Defense, I would ask the President of the United States, I would ask the Secretary of Defense, whether there would ever be discretion left to a commander whether to fly the flags of Virginia or Utah or North Carolina or Florida,” Norton said. “That would be considered an insult to those states; we consider it no less.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.