Norton Reintroduces Bill Requiring the President to Order Nation’s Flag to Fly at Half-Staff Upon Death of D.C. Mayor

Jul 6, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) reintroduced her bill today to add the Mayor of the District of Columbia to the list of principals for whom the president is required to order the nation’s flag to be flown at half-staff upon death. Current law requires the president to order the flag to be flown at half-staff “upon the death of principal figures of the United States Government and the Governor of a State, territory, or possession, as a mark of respect to their memory.” Last Congress, the Judiciary Committee passed the bill.

Norton said the D.C. mayor, who performs the same functions as state and territorial governors, clearly qualifies as a principal and should receive equal recognition.

“Even though the District is not yet the 51st state, its current home-rule status entitles a deceased mayor to the same respect as comparable figures of states, territories, or possessions, which are named in the statute,” Norton said. “We can only assume that the omission of the District of Columbia was an oversight and not meant to disrespect a deceased D.C. mayor or D.C. residents, particularly considering that territories are included. Adding D.C.’s mayor to the list of officials who can be honored with flags flown at half-staff is a small – but, to D.C. residents, significant – way to ensure residents receive the equal treatment they deserve.”

Norton has successfully gotten other congressional recognition of D.C. in situations where the District was overlooked while honoring the states. As a result of her work, the District of Columbia War Memorial honors only District residents who served in World War I; D.C.’s Frederick Douglass statue sits in the Capitol alongside statues from the 50 states; the armed services is required to display the District flag whenever the flags of the states are displayed; D.C. has a coin after it was omitted from legislation creating coins for the 50 states; the U.S. Postal Service created a D.C. stamp, like the stamps for the 50 states; and the National Park Service added the D.C. flag alongside the state flags across from Union Station.