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Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Representing the District of Columbia

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Norton Blasts Meadows for Reintroducing Bill to Radically Alter D.C.’s Local Education System

Feb 11, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today blasted Representative Mark Meadows (R-NC) for reintroducing a bill that would radically alter the District of Columbia’s local education system by forcing D.C. to steer its local funds away from D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) and public charter schools to vouchers for any student who chooses to attend private schools.  Unlike the existing D.C. private school voucher program, which uses federal funds, Meadows’ bill would force D.C. to spend its own local funds on vouchers.  The bill would also compel D.C. to use its local funds to pay for other educational expenses, such as private online classes.  In the 115th Congress, the Republican-controlled House and Senate rejected all amendments to establish national voucher programs as part of the bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

“Congressman Meadows has not lost his well-practiced fervor for abusing congressional authority to interfere with the District’s local laws and affairs,” Norton said.  “There is nothing more quintessentially local than education.  Yet, Congressman Meadows wants the federal government to dictate how D.C. spends its locally raised education funds, a shocking position from a Member claiming the mantle of local control over local affairs.   If Congressman Meadows believes private school vouchers are the best policy, he should introduce a bill to create a national voucher program, instead of singling out the District.  I would also remind my colleague that D.C. already has a robust public school choice system with public charter schools, which enroll nearly half of our public school students.  I will work with my colleagues in the Democratic majority to ensure this bill never sees the light of day in committee, let alone the House floor.”

Norton said that Meadows is such a frequent offender of D.C. home rule, she wonders whether he is spending the requisite time on his own district.  This is the third time he has introduced his bill to radically alter the District’s local education system.  In the 115th Congress, Meadows cosponsored an amendment to prohibit D.C. from using its local funds to carry out the Health Insurance Requirement Amendment Act of 2018, which requires D.C. residents to have health insurance and is modeled on the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.  In the 115th Congress, he cosponsored an amendment to prohibit D.C. from using its local funds to carry out the recent voter-passed Initiative 77, which would have eliminated the tipped minimum wage.  He has led the effort in the House to repeal the District’s budget autonomy referendum.  In the 114th Congress, he introduced a standalone bill, which passed the House, to repeal the budget autonomy referendum.  However, Norton has repeatedly kept the budget referendum from being overturned, and it remains law.  In the 114th Congress, Meadows introduced a bill to interfere with and alter D.C.’s local occupational licensing laws and require the District to create a new legislative committee or subcommittee on occupational regulations, which Norton kept from moving forward.  In the 114th, Meadows was one of the most vocal supporters of a House-passed disapproval resolution to nullify a local D.C. anti-discrimination law, the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA).  Norton defeated the disapproval resolution and RHNDA is now law.  In the 113th Congress, he introduced a bill to prohibit the District from deducting union dues from employee paychecks.

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