Norton Claims Victory For Two D.C. Anti-Discrimination Laws That Survived Disapproval Resolutions, Will Take Effect Tomorrow

May 1, 2015
Press Release

13 Republicans Vote with Democrats; Norton Gears Up for Appropriations Fight

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today said that both District of Columbia anti-discrimination laws that Republicans in the House and Senate tried to overturn through disapproval resolutions will take effect tomorrow, May 2.  Norton said that although the House, as expected, passed a resolution last night to disapprove the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA), the congressional review period for RHNDA expires today, so the disapproval resolution dies today and RHNDA will take effect tomorrow.  Working with a national coalition of reproductive health, LGBT, and human rights organizations, Norton had already been successful in preventing even the consideration of a disapproval resolution introduced in the House and Senate on D.C.’s Human Rights Amendment Act (HRAA), which repeals a congressionally imposed provision that permits schools in D.C. to deny LGBT students equal access to school facilities and services.  RHNDA would prohibit employers from discriminating based on employees’ reproductive health decisions.

Norton said she had expected the usual party-line vote, the same as in committee, considering that the House is the most conservative in memory, but 13 Republicans voted with Democrats for a 228-192 vote, unusual for ideological votes.  The huge Democratic opposition to the RHNDA disapproval resolution, including by the White House, Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA), who spoke on the floor and at her press conference yesterday against the disapproval resolution, and Whip Steny Hoyer (MD), will be helpful as Republicans try to overturn both RHNDA and HRAA in the upcoming appropriations process.  Despite the victory for both D.C. laws, Norton and her staff are in the throes of preparing for the fight in both chambers.

Norton said Republicans tried to minimize attention on the RHNDA disapproval resolution by delaying debate on it last night, making it the last bill up at around 9:30 p.m.  Despite the late hour, House Democrats rallied to defend the District, with more members wishing to speak than there was time allotted.  Norton said it was no coincidence either that Republicans chose to hold the vote at 10:40 p.m. last night, when they could have postponed votes until today, as they did with many other votes last night.

“On a night when we expected no Republicans to vote against the disapproval resolution, we got 13 Republicans to vote no in an ultra-conservative House,” Norton said.  “The combination of the Republican resumption of the war on women and the overturning of a local law by the House, whose mantra is local government empowerment and control, will not be lost on the public.  With Republicans in control of both chambers of Congress, Republican leadership has been anxious to show they can govern and produce for the nation.  House leadership did not relish this fight and allowed the disapproval resolution to move forward at the last minute only after being pressed by several outside groups and a new far-right Republican caucus that often opposes the Republican leadership.  Democrats, on the other hand, had an overwhelming outpouring of unified support against disapproving the D.C. reproductive health anti-discrimination law.  With help from the national coalition of organizations that worked so effectively with us, D.C. now is in good shape for the appropriations fight.”