DC Representative Norton speaks about DC statehood and COVID-19 at ANC meeting
Norton addressed locals’ concerns and getting Build Back Better passed in the Senate
In an Advisory Neighborhood Commission Meeting for ANC 3D on Feb. 2, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton answered questions about her activity in Congress and advocacy for D.C. statehood.
The district’s non-voting delegate in the House of Representatives answered questions about the “Build Back Better” plan, pushing priorities forward while Democrats retain Congressional control, mitigating the effects of COVID-19 on the city and her efforts to achieve D.C. statehood.
Norton outlined her efficacy as a representative and detailed how she has helped the district in Congress recently.
“I was rated the most effective House Democrat by the Center for Effective Lawmaking, and last Congress, I was rated the second most effective non-full committee chair among House Democrats,” Norton said. “This Congress, of the 80 bills I have introduced thus far 18 have moved, at least through committee and two have been signed into law.”
Attendees were asked to submit their questions for Norton before the meeting, most of which covered activities in Congress and their impacts on district residents.
Unifying Democratic control under the threat of losing control of Congress is a priority for 2022, but is limited by the filibuster, Norton said.
“The House has passed my D.C. statehood bill and my bill to give them air control over the D.C. National Guard, but they can't pass because of the filibuster,” Norton said.
However, Norton’s provision to increase the annual D.C. tuition access grant awards from $10,000 to $15,000 in the D.C. Appropriations Bill is likely to succeed despite the filibuster.
With regards to D.C. statehood, Norton said it feels “very close, yet very far away right now.” Fifty-four percent of the American people support D.C. statehood, and understanding this and mobilization are key to getting statehood passed, Norton said.
“The biggest hurdles to pass are the filibuster and getting Americans activated on this issue,” Norton said. “Republicans in the House and Senate have introduced more than 20 bills and amendments this Congress to overturn D.C. policies. Six members have tried to overturn D.C. vaccine policies of all things. I will defeat all these efforts just as I have defeated virtually every effort to overturn D.C. laws in more than a decade.”
Many of the questions from the public centered on the power Congressional legislation has over the district, and Norton made it clear that D.C. interests are her main priority.
“As a matter of home rule, I don’t weigh in on council legislation,” Norton said. “My job is to defend in Congress whatever legislation Congress passes, so if I weighed in, that would be held against the district, whatever passes.”
Norton detailed the way the country’s COVID-19 policies have failed and expressed frustration with the misinformation and disinformation that have, “caused many needless deaths,” in response to a question about how these policies will continue to impact locals.
“I’m very concerned that we are no better prepared to confront new challenges in this pandemic or future pandemics. Our healthcare workforce is exhausted and quitting in large numbers and we have an underfunded and fragmented public health system,” Norton said. “COVID will likely be around forever and we will need to be prepared to relax and scale up public health measures based on what the virus does.”
Norton closed by answering several more locally based questions from members of the ANC 3D neighborhood and providing questioners with relevant contacts in her office.