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Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Representing the District of Columbia

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Norton Cites a Victory as D.C.’s ‘Death with Dignity Act’ Takes Effect Tomorrow, But Fight Continues

Feb 17, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) said that the District of Columbia’s medical aid-in-dying bill, the Death with Dignity Act, will take effect tomorrow, Saturday, February 18, 2017.  Under the Home Rule Act, D.C. bills take effect upon the expiration of a congressional review period, unless a joint resolution disapproving a bill is enacted into law during the review period.  The Death with Dignity Act was transmitted by the D.C. Council to the House and Senate on January 6, 2017, for a 30-legislative-day review period.  The last day of the review period is today.  While the Death with Dignity Act takes effect tomorrow, the House and Senate parliamentarians are the arbiters of whether a disapproval resolution on the Death with Dignity Act may still be considered in the respective chambers.

Last Congress, Norton protected a local D.C. anti-discrimination bill, the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA), despite repeated attempts by House Republicans to overturn it.  The House passed a disapproval resolution to nullify RHNDA, but Norton fought to keep the Senate from taking up the disapproval resolution, and RHNDA took effect upon the expiration of the congressional review period.  Republicans then tried again to block RHNDA by including a rider in the House’s fiscal year 2016 and 2017 D.C. Appropriations bills to block D.C. from using its local funds to carry out RHNDA.  The funding restriction was not signed into law.

“Today we note our first victory in our battle to defend the Death with Dignity Act from overbearing and undemocratic congressional attacks,” Norton said.  “We kept constant pressure on House Republicans and prevented a House floor vote after the markup by calling out the 24 House Republicans, including two Members of House leadership, who are from the six states where medical aid in dying is legal.  However, our defense of the Death with Dignity Act is only beginning.  House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and House Appropriations Committee Member Andy Harris (R-MD) have already publicly said they are looking to use the appropriations process to block or overturn D.C.’s purely local legislation.  D.C. residents and local officials have shown they are ready to fight to defend our local democracy.  We intend to win as we did last Congress when we successfully protected D.C.’s local anti-discrimination law.”

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