Norton Introduces Bill Requiring Federal Officials Serving D.C. to Live in D.C.

Jul 16, 2019
Press Release
D.C. Equality Bill Establishes Same Requirements for Federal Officials in D.C as in States and Territories

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today introduced a bill to require certain federal officials who serve the District of Columbia to live in the District.  In nearly every other jurisdiction in the United States, federal district and circuit court judges, the U.S. Attorney, and the U.S. Marshal are required to reside within the jurisdictions where they are appointed, but no such residency requirement exists for those officials serving in the District.  Norton’s bill, the District of Columbia Federal Officials Residency Equality Act, would require that such officials reside in D.C.  This bill is the 14th bill in Norton’s Free and Equal D.C. series, which is part of her two-track approach of simultaneously pursuing statehood while also passing bills that would expand D.C. home rule and equality, which does not require statehood. 

“As we try to resolve all the ways D.C. is treated differently, the lack of residency requirements for federal officials responsible for public safety and law enforcement is surely an important one,” Norton said.  “Adding residency requirements for federal district and circuit court judges, the U.S. Attorney, and the U.S. Marshals serving the District is a matter of fairness that would make D.C. more equal with the states and even the territories.”

Residency requirements for federal officials ensure they are engaging with the local community and forging bonds with the people they serve.  Norton’s bill would ensure that District residents would receive the same community involvement as other jurisdictions across the nation.  There are very few exceptions to this rule.  The U.S. Attorney and U.S. Marshal appointed for the Northern Mariana Islands may serve simultaneously in another district and federal officials appointed to the Southern District of New York and the Eastern District of New York serve different parts of the same city.

Norton has introduced several bills Congress can pass now to reduce the federal government’s control over local District matters and expand existing D.C. equality.  This bill is the 14th in Norton’s Free and Equal D.C. Series:

  • The District of Columbia Paperwork Reduction Act (H.R. 735) would eliminate the congressional review period for D.C. bills.
  • The District of Columbia Local Prosecutor Home Rule Act (H.R. 917) would allow the District to prosecute all crimes committed under its local laws.  Currently, the U.S. Attorney for the District prosecutes almost all crimes committed by adults under local D.C. law.
  • The District of Columbia National Guard Home Rule Act (H.R. 1090) would give the D.C. Mayor the authority to deploy the D.C. National Guard for local matters.  Unlike governors of the states, and even territories, the District’s chief executive officer has no authority over its local Guard.
  • A bill to require the Library of Congress to install the D.C. seal in the Main Reading Room of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress (H.R. 1318).  Currently, the stained-glass windows contain the seals of all states and territories that existed when the building was constructed, except for the D.C. seal, which was readily available at the time and should have been depicted.
  • The District of Columbia Home Rule Clemency Act (H.R. 1378) would give the District exclusive authority, like the states and territories, to grant clemency to offenders convicted under its local laws.  Currently, this authority is exercised in D.C. by the President.
  • The District of Columbia Home Rule Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 1408) would eliminate the applicability of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 to the District.
  • The District of Columbia Zoning Commission Home Rule Act (H.R. 1538) would give D.C. the authority to appoint all members of the Commission.
  • The National Capital Planning Commission District of Columbia Home Rule Act (H.R. 1797) would remove the authority of the NCPC to review the development of D.C.-owned land.
  • The District of Columbia Courts Home Rule Act (H.R. 2769) would give D.C. authority over the jurisdiction and organization of the local D.C. courts.
  • The District of Columbia Police Home Rule Act (H.R. 3092) would eliminate the president’s authority to federalize the local D.C. police department.
  • A bill to permit the flag of the United States to be flown at half-staff in the event of the death of the Mayor of the District (H.R. 3283).
  • The Commission of Fine Arts District of Columbia Home Rule Act (H.R. 3365) would remove the authority of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts to review development of District-owned parks and buildings, as well as development of certain private property in D.C.
  • The D.C. Board of Zoning Adjustment Home Rule Act (H.R. 3581) would give the District the authority to appoint all members of the D.C. Board of Zoning Adjustment (Board), except when the Board is performing functions regarding an application by a foreign mission with respect to a chancery.