Committee Passes Norton’s Washington Channel Public Access Act and National Children’s Museum Act

Mar 24, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) announced that the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure today passed her Washington Channel Public Access Act (H.R. 1765) and her National Children’s Museum Act (H.R. 1703).

“I am pleased that both of these bills, which are important to the District of Columbia, were passed at one of the first markups held this Congress by the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure,” Norton said. “I will continue to work to get both of these bills enacted this Congress.”

The Washington Channel Public Access Act would prohibit the Secretary of the Army from finalizing or implementing any rule that would restrict public access to the Washington Channel in the District of Columbia. A pending proposed rule would establish a permanent restricted area in the Channel adjacent to Fort McNair, restricting recreational and commercial access in the Channel, and specifically impacting recreation and commerce in the Wharf and Navy Yard neighborhoods. These neighborhoods have been developed because of land transfer bills Norton got enacted. Norton held a public meeting with the U.S. Army and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on January 27, 2021, on the proposed rule. Community members expressed overwhelming opposition to the proposed rule. The U.S. Army has indicated that the proposed rule will not be finalized until President Biden’s proposed appointee can review it, but Norton’s Washington Channel Public Access Act would ensure that the proposed rule, or any other rule that would restrict public access to the Channel, would not go into effect.

The National Children’s Museum Act, which is co-led by Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL), would require the General Services Administration to enter into a cooperative agreement with the National Children's Museum (NCM), a congressionally designated museum, that would allow NCM to remain in the federally owned Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in D.C. without charge for the duration of its existing lease. NCM is the nation’s first combination children’s museum and science center. The bill would allow NCM to remain centrally located in the nation’s capital for the benefit of the millions who visit and live in D.C. and the national capital region, relieving concerns about the ability of NCM to survive the financial crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. This bill passed the House last Congress. A Senate companion bill (S. 830) has been introduced by Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).

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