Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton at ANC6B: “The President is trying to steal the Fourth of July”
by Larry Janezich
Congresswoman Norton appeared before ANC6B for the first time Tuesday night to talk about her work in Congress for DC residents. She says she is pursuing two tracks to equality: advancing statehood and completing home rule. But it was her statement about the President and the Fourth of July which was the highpoint in her discussion of her work to protect DC from the administration and the Republican Senate.
She called the President’s intention to take over the July 4th celebration “dangerous” – and noted that “there is nothing more apolitical than the traditional July 4th Concert” on the West Front of the US Capitol. She called the celebration little changed over the decades until 9/11 when attendees were required to go through metal detectors. She seemed chagrined when she alluded to the Lincoln Memorial – where the Rev. Martin Luther King’s delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech and where the President plans to deliver a Fourth of July address. She said she is trying to work to get the celebration back where it was, offering no details, but perhaps thinking of legislation reserving the National Memorials for non-political purposes.
On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that the White House is considering ordering up a second firework display on July Fourth in connection with a speech by the President. See here: https://wapo.st/2Ixjs3i
Norton addressed several other topics of special concern to DC residents:
Statehood: Her bill on DC Statehood has 207 co-sponsors and needs 218 to pass the House. She said it looks like the House has enough votes to pass the bill but that will be hard to get the bill through the Senate. The Senate bill was introduced by Senator Tom Carper, (D-DE) and has 28 cosponsors.
Advancing Statehood: Norton is pursuing several goals which can be achieved legislatively without statehood. These include providing for local prosecutors, authority to call out the National Guard, and control over local courts.
RFK Stadium: Norton has introduced a bill to authorize the federal government’s sale of the RFK Stadium site and additional unused federal land to DC. She noted the controversy surrounding a proposed new stadium for Washington’s football team, and said that her legislation “wiped the slate clean, taking the football team out of it.” Her bill, she says, states the city wants it for “amenities.” Literature distributed at the meeting clarifies that this means strengthening DC’s ability to redevelop the site with options such as additional green space, affordable housing, commercial development,”etc.
During Q&A, residents and commissioners in attendance raised questions about the trend of lobbying groups and non-profits buying up residential houses near the Capitol and using them as event spaces; a complaint that politicians talk about helping small businesses but don’t really help, citing the hardship caused by the government shutdown earlier this year; the failure of the US Attorney’s Office to prosecute crimes involving guns and other violent crimes as well as failing in transparency; the Architect of the Capitol’s failure to incentivize use of mass transit and ride share while increasing parking for Congressional staff; and an objection to the Architect of the Capitol serving on the DC Zoning Commission.
Norton said she had not heard of the housing or parking issues but urged further communication with her office on those. She said she might be able to do something about the prosecutor’s office and the Architect of the Capitol on the Zoning Board – maybe through legislation. She was sympathetic about the effect of the government shut down on small business but said there was little that could be done about that except elect a new president.
Norton was scheduled to address ANC6A at its monthly meeting on Thursday night, but a conflict in her schedule required her to cancel that meeting.