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Norton Asks GOP Leaders for House Voting Privileges

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., sent a letter to House Republican leadership Tuesday asking that she be granted a vote on the House floor in the 114th Congress.  

Currently, Norton can vote in committee, but she does not have a vote on the House floor or Committee of the Whole. The District of Columbia delegate, other delegates and Puerto Rico's resident commissioner were granted floor votes in the 103rd, 110th and 111th Congresses, when Democrats had the majority. They could vote in the Committee of the Whole, as long as their votes were not decisive.  Republican majorities in the 104th, 105th, 106th, 107th, 108th, 109th, 112th and 113th Congresses did not allow delegates and the resident commissioner to vote on the floor. In a letter to Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and Rules Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, Norton pointed to District residents' lack of representation in Congress, despite fulfilling their civic duties.  

"The American citizens who live in the nation’s capital have always been proud to fully participate in all of the obligations of citizenship, including fighting and dying in every war, ... paying full federal taxes, and serving on federal juries,” Norton wrote in the letter, according to a statement released by her office. “I ask only that the House, where I am privileged to serve, grant D.C. residents the modicum of respect the vote in the Committee of the Whole would afford.”  

Norton asked that the rules for the 114th Congress be altered to grant her a vote on the House floor, echoing her testimony in front of the Rules Committee in September, when lawmakers made their pitches for rules governing the next Congress.  

According to a Rules Committee aide, "the rules package is still a work in progress." The package is expected to be released in early January.  

During a recent conflict over an appropriations rider targeting a D.C. marijuana legalization initiative, Norton went to the floor and noted how the conflict highlighted D.C. citizens' lack of voting representation in the House.  

"Congress must find its way out of the local affairs of the residents of the city who pay the highest federal taxes per capita in the United States," Norton said on Dec. 11, "while the member who represents them must stand by and watch every member of this House vote on a matter affecting her district, except the member who represents the District of Columbia."  

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