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Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Representing the District of Columbia

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Norton Gets Victory on D.C. Wet Wipes Law, Believes She Will Be Able to Remove Death with Dignity Repeal Rider

Jul 14, 2017
Press Release

Norton Fighting to Get Marijuana, Abortion, and Budget Autonomy Riders Removed from Committee-Passed D.C. Appropriations Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today said that at last night’s committee markup of the fiscal year 2018 District of Columbia appropriations bill, D.C. faced two new riders, both offered by Representative Andy Harris (R-MD).  Norton has made fun of the possibility of a rider that would block D.C. from spending its local funds to carry out its new law regulating the flushability labeling of wet wipes.  Harris offered his amendment for the first time, spoke on it, and then withdrew it, marking a victory for the District.  No other Member of the committee opined on his amendment.  A Harris amendment to repeal D.C.’s medical aid-in-dying law, the Death with Dignity Act (DWDA), passed by a vote of 28-24, but two Republicans voted to let the law stand, including one from a state where medical aid-in-dying is legal.  The Committee-passed bill also prohibits D.C. from spending its local funds on marijuana commercialization and on abortions for low-income women and repeals D.C.’s budget autonomy referendum.  Norton said she will try to file amendments to remove the DWDA, marijuana, abortion, and budget autonomy riders when the bill goes to the House floor.

Norton continues to believe that she has a decent chance of defeating the DWDA rider in the final D.C. Appropriations bill.  She has particularly pressed the 24 Republican House Members from states where medical aid-in-dying is legal, including two Republican leaders.  She kept disapproval resolutions to nullify the DWDA during the congressional review period from going to the floor in both the House and Senate.  Norton said that Harris shamelessly misrepresented the DWDA in his remarks, falsely claiming that tourists could use the District’s medical aid-in-dying law, even though only D.C. residents are eligible, and he said that doctors could administer lethal injections, when the law specifies that individuals must self-administer the fatal medication.

Norton said that the withdrawn Harris wet wipes amendment is a victory for D.C. in the face of aggressive lobbying efforts to block the law by powerful multinational corporations, led by Kimberly-Clark.  After withdrawing his amendment, Harris asked the chairman to work with the D.C. Council on clarifying the law’s regulations on what “flushable” means and other clarifications the city is currently developing through its regulatory process.  However, Norton is on watch in case lobbyists try to get Harris or another Member to offer the pipe-clogging amendment on the House floor.  According to the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, U.S. utilities spend $500 million-$1 billion per year to address clogs and other problems caused by the flushing of nonwoven disposable products, and there are health and safety risks for workers who clear the mess.

“Representative Harris has become a serial abuser of congressional power over the District,” Norton said.  “Nevertheless, we won one when Harris withdrew his wet wipes amendment.  However, after we defeated attempts to nullify the Death with Dignity Act through disapproval resolutions in the House and Senate, Harris chose to hide in the appropriations process and legislate through a spending bill.  It was a good sign that two Republicans voted with us to oppose the Harris Death with Dignity rider.  We will continue to call on the 24 House Republicans, including two House leaders, who represent states where medical aid in dying is legal to vote with us to remove the Harris rider.  We also believe we will do better in the Senate on riders in the D.C. appropriations bill.  In addition, when the D.C. appropriations bill goes to the House floor, I will offer an amendment to strike the Harris rider, as well as the other three other anti-home-rule riders, so that no Member will get a free pass on stepping on D.C. home rule and violating the basic Republican principle of local control over local affairs.”