Hill Makes Pitch for Protected Bike Lanes

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The commute could get a little easier for cyclists who trek between Union Station and Capitol Hill, if Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers and local transportation officials can agree.  

Support for a protected bike lane on Louisiana Avenue has grown steadily in recent months, with the Congressional Bike Caucus and Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen backing the plan. On Wednesday, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., added her voice to the chorus. "This project has broad support from the community and Members of Congress, and it would provide a vital benefit to the many residents, visitors, and workers that traverse the area by bicycle," she wrote in a letter to Ayers and District of Columbia Department of Transportation Director Leif Dormsjo.  

What a Paul Ryan Speakership Means for D.C.

Ryan became speaker on Oct. 29. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., adjusts to his new role in the House, he also takes on a little-recognized responsibility: oversight of the District of Columbia.  

Ryan has not served on any of the spending or oversight committees with jurisdiction over D.C., so it is tough to gauge his record. But he has spent nearly half his life as a professional in Washington, and he goes to great pains to distance himself from the capital city. On ABC's "This Week" Sunday, he told Martha Raddatz: "I don't live in Washington, D.C. I never really wanted to live here. I just — I just work here," a talking point he reiterated throughout the day's media blitz.  

House Approves Boehner's D.C. Vouchers Bill

Boehner helped established the DC voucher program. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans rallied around outgoing Speaker John A. Boehner Wednesday evening to approve one of his pet projects: a school voucher program for the District of Columbia.  

The House approved reauthorizing the program, known as the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, by a mostly party-line vote of 240 191. Before the vote, Boehner took to the floor to make a rare speech, his voice breaking as he discussed the children who benefited from the program.  

House Panel Approves Boehner's D.C. Vouchers Bill

Boehner has been a strong proponent of the DC vouchers program. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:30 p.m. | As the House Republican Conference continues to navigate an unpredictable leadership situation, outgoing Speaker John A. Boehner got one piece of good news Friday: his bill reauthorizing a D.C. school vouchers program moved forward.  

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved, on a party-line vote, a five-year reauthorization of the program Friday. Partisan divisions were on display during the markup. Roughly a dozen D.C. children dressed in their private school uniforms watched as lawmakers debated the faults and merits of their voucher program. A handful of the students hailed from Archbishop Carroll High School in Northeast D.C., where the committee held a field hearing on the program in May.  

Lawmakers Take Aim at Synthetic Drugs

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As partisan divisions threaten to lead to a government shutdown, some members of Congress from both sides of the aisle are uniting against a common foe: synthetic drugs.  

Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., introduced a bill Thursday to combat the rise in synthetic drug use, which are often chemicals sprayed onto plants, that can alter users' mental state and cause erratic and violent behavior. Law enforcement has partially attributed the increase in violent crime in the District of Columbia to synthetic drug use. "Ordinarily I would do a press announcement, not in Washington, D.C., but back out somewhere else in America," Dent said after the Capitol Hill press conference Friday. "But we chose Washington, D.C., for a reason. One, yes, this is the capital. But more importantly, this issue has been so prominent right here. ... Washington, D.C., has been hit very hard, perhaps harder than any community.”  

Norton Looks to Extend Workplace Protection to Congress' Staff

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., announced Friday she plans to introduce legislation to extend workplace protections and civil rights laws to congressional employees.  

“If Congress, our nationally elected legislature, is not yet a workplace where workplace laws are fully applied, how can Congress sit in judgment of public and private employers who must comply with the full complement of laws?” Norton asked in her statement announcing the bill. Her bill, which she will introduce this week, amends the Congressional Accountability Act, which extended workplace rights and protections to the legislative branch 20 years ago. Despite that act, Congress exempted itself from some of the laws governing the workplace, including protections for whistleblowers .  

D.C. Drawn Into Sanctuary Cities Debate

Gohmert introduced "The Safer DC Act" Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House has voted to limit funding for so-called sanctuary cities, but one lawmaker is pushing to take further action in the District of Columbia, dictating specific policies for law enforcement.  

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, has introduced "The Safer D.C. Act" declaring the District is a "sanctuary city," or a jurisdiction with policies that shelter undocumented immigrants. "The Constitution explicitly vests Congress with exclusive jurisdiction over the District of Columbia — and we should take action," Gohmert said. "Therefore, at the very least, Congress must use our explicit Constitutional power to ensure that at least the District of Columbia is not a sanctuary city.” “In the wake of the tragic murder of San Francisco resident, Kate Steinle, by a five-time deported illegal criminal alien, it is important to realize that the District of Columbia is in fact also a sanctuary city like San Francisco," Gohmert said in a statement, pointing to the murder highlighted at congressional hearings  last week.  

Lawmaker Threatens to Strip WMATA of Management

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)


Amid concerns about the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's management of the second busiest transit system in the country, one member of Congress is threatening to strip WMATA of its current management and structure.  

Clinton Support for D.C. Statehood Encourages Officials

Clinton told Norton she supports DC statehood. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House and Senate Democrats pitched their national priorities  to Hillary Rodham Clinton during her Capitol Hill visit, but one Democrat was able to shore up Clinton's support on an issue close to home: District of Columbia statehood.  

But according to Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., the former secretary of State and New York senator told her she's all in on a more local issue. “I have always been with you, Eleanor.  Of course I support D.C. statehood,” Clinton told Norton, according to a statement from the District's congressional representative. Norton said Wednesday she hoped Clinton's support for statehood "will encourage the far greater activism on statehood we are seeking in the city.”  

White House Area Closures Prompt Access, Safety Concerns

Norton is concerned about bicyclist and pedestrian access around the White House. (Photo courtesy of Norton's office)

The White House is undergoing some security changes to deter fence jumpers, but one member of Congress is concerned the construction is restricting bicyclists and pedestrians who traverse the area.  

The fence construction and other security concerns have prompted closures of areas surrounding the White House, particularly barring bicyclists from portions of the Pennsylvania Avenue plaza. A recent false alarm about a shooter at the Washington Navy Yard also led to the temporary closure of Lafayette Park north of the complex. The closures prompted Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., to raise concerns with the National Park Service and the Secret Service, and request a meeting to discuss what can be done. "I understand that particular threats to the White House may warrant temporary closures to Pennsylvania Avenue and Lafayette Park, but these closures should not be lengthy or without reason," Norton wrote in a July 9 letter to National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis and Secret Service Director Joseph P. Clancy.