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Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Representing the District of Columbia

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Norton Makes 2016 Predictions

Dec 27, 2015
Blog

Norton Makes 2016 Predictions

*Pages in Parentheses Correspond to Norton’s End of the Year Newsletter

Representing the District of Columbia, I can afford only conservative assumptions when predicting the unknown – 2016.  So, here goes. 

Paul Ryan, the new House Speaker, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have both been anxious to show that they can govern, and, by 2017, would like to control the executive as well.  In 2015, we established good relationships with Senate Republican appropriators and authorizers, whose voting records were the opposite of the prior Democratic-controlled Senate, and also got assistance working closely with Democratic leaders and Members in both chambers.  Yet, D.C.’s results were not different under Republican control than under Democratic control, except for significant increases in funding in the 2015 Republican-controlled Congress (pg. 2).

No New Anti-Home-Rule Riders

With so much at stake in 2016 for the Republican Senate, I am assuming that it will not be the year Republican senators, who represent entire states, score with their home states by bringing home D.C. riders (we are well known to be strike back with both local and social media outreach), or buy into Republican House extremism by adopting House riders as the Senate’s own.  However, Republican House Members have serially attacked D.C.’s gun safety laws and will likely do so again.  Only Senate Republican Senate presidential candidates tried this year, and may again, but the Republican Senate, like this year, will probably not be seeking to favor one Senate presidential candidate by adopting a particular senator’s rider (pg. 3).  We will need a Democratic Senate and House to get the rider that bars D.C. from spending local funds to provide abortion services to low-income women removed, as we did in 2009.  The marijuana commercialization rider will be tough to remove as well, but the absurdity of legal possession in D.C. that drives residents to the illegal market for purchases will be acknowledged as more states embrace regulated commercialization.

The Department of Homeland Security Consolidation in Ward 8 Will Be Completed

We got the full requested funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Ward 8 campus in 2015 (pg. 2).  This amount is enough for design funding for a new Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) building on the St. Elizabeths West Campus and completion of the Center Building, now under construction, for the DHS Secretary and his top 700 staff members.  Many thought the DHS project would be a lost cause, but getting “a little pregnant” at a time worked.  I predict that, considering FEMA is the last building to be constructed, the DHS consolidated headquarters will be completed.

Statehood Will Be Strengthened

This year, instead of adding cosponsors after I introduced our statehood bill, I asked Democrats to become original cosponsors with me – and 93 Democrats agreed, which set a new record.  Now, a record total of 128 cosponsors have signed on to the bill (pg. 3).  In the Senate, a record 17 Democrats introduced our statehood bill as original cosponsors with Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), the ranking member of the committee of jurisdiction, including the top four Democratic leaders.  I will keep adding to that record in 2016.  Building on this increased interest in Congress for statehood, I will be working with residents on new strategies, among them finding creative ways to use HBO’s Last Week Tonight D.C. statehood segment lampooning Congress for denying D.C. residents equal rights.

More Economic Development

In 2015, we got an unprecedented increase in federal economic development funding for D.C. because of my role as one of the “Big Four” House transportation and infrastructure leaders, who wrote the first long-term surface transportation bill in 10 years (pg. 2).  Although our federal funding will not be as great in 2016, I expect increased economic development because of private sector funding at development sites I have gotten for the District – The Wharf (SW Waterfront), The Yards (SE Waterfront), and the old Walter Reed Hospital site (pg. 2).

More National Legislation to Help D.C.

We should be able to get bills through the House on airplane noise and synthetic drugs.  In 2015, I searched and found Republican and Democratic allies troubled by these same issues (pgs. 5, 6).  In 2016, I will collaborate with them to pass bills on airplane noise and synthetic drugs.