DC Rep Warns House GOP: Don’t Mess With Local Laws

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District of Columbia Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton told Republicans Thursday to back off D.C. laws and stop using them to further political agendas.

Holmes Norton said there will be no hiding from their constituents if Republicans in the House try again to “infringe on the rights of D.C. residents” and block local laws.

“Today we issue a warning to members of the House who oppose the District’s right to democratic local self-government by trying to overturn our local laws,” Norton said at a Thursday press conference. “I will force a roll call vote on each and every rider that targets a D.C. local law.”

She said there have been significant attacks against D.C. laws, with the most recent being an unsuccessful attempt last week by House republicans to block a “non-discrimination” bill passed by city council.

The bill was meant to prohibit employers from discriminating against employees who choose to use birth control or get abortions, but some members of Congress were concerned it would force businesses to violate religious beliefs while hiring new employees.

Ultimately, the attempt to block the law failed, but House Republicans have vowed to continue fighting the law during the appropriations process. Since D.C. is a district controlled by the federal government, even though revenue is raised locally, all decisions must be approved by Congress.

Chief among Norton’s targets, though not members of the House, were senators and Republican presidential nominees Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. Rubio introduced a bill that would wipe out the city’s gun laws while the Cruz bill was an attempt to block a “non-discrimination” law passed by D.C. council earlier this year.

The bills haven’t moved so far in the Senate, but Norton said the timing was no coincidence.

“It is no accident that both senators introduced their bills just before announcing their presidential bids,” Norton said. “Marking the first time D.C.’s local laws have become fodder for presidential campaigns.”

Norton was joined at the press conference, which she joked has become an annual kick-off event for the appropriations process in Congress, by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and a coalition of local and national advocacy groups representing the various issues.

Bowser echoed Norton’s sentiments regarding D.C. homerule, saying D.C. has had a balanced budget for 20 consecutive years.

Congress should focus on national issues, “and the duly elected mayor will focus on the district,” she said. “We will do our jobs, so please, please do yours.”

Bowser said every year around this time district residents are reminded they lack the rights of other Americans because they pay income taxes at the highest per capita rate in the nation, yet residents have no say in how that money is spent.

While Norton represents D.C. in Congress, her position is merely symbolic. She is a delegate with no power to vote on bills.

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