Norton to Host Press Conference with Mayor Bowser and National Organizations to Defend D.C. Home Rule From FY 16 Appropriations Riders in All-Republican Congress, Thursday
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today announced she will host a press conference with District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser and a coalition of national organizations to defend the city’s local laws from attacks on multiple issues during the upcoming fiscal year 2016 appropriations process on Thursday, May 7, 2015, at 10:30 a.m. in 234 Cannon House Office Building. The national organizations’ representatives—Planned Parenthood Federation of America Vice President for Public Policy and Government Affairs Dana Singiser, Human Rights Campaign Government Affairs Director David Stacy, NARAL Pro-Choice America Policy Representative Kate Ryan, AIDS United Vice President of Public Policy and Advocacy Ronald Johnson, and Drug Policy Alliance Policy Manager Malik Burnett—will discuss their intentions to use their nationwide networks, along with a network of 100 like-minded organizations, to contact members of the House and Senate to protect D.C.’s home-rule rights in the fiscal year 2016 D.C. Appropriations bill.
The focus of the press conference will be to alert members of the House and Senate that D.C. has allies to help prevent anti-local government riders that would block D.C.’s laws on workplace equality and LGBT students educational equality, marijuana, gun safety, needle exchange, and reproductive rights.
“Facing an all-Republican Congress for the first time in seven years, we expect the strongest attack ever on the District of Columbia and its local laws during this appropriations process,” Norton said. “In the past, some appropriations riders have endangered the safety and health of D.C. residents, and we must not allow them to return. Particularly this year, the District needs help from the strong national coalition that has agreed to mobilize its members to alert the constituents of House and Senate Members that a local jurisdiction is being imperiled through an undemocratic intervention, taking away from the priorities they sent their Member to Congress to focus on.”
Thus far in the 114th Congress, there have been significant attacks on D.C.:
• Just last week, House Republicans passed a resolution introduced by Representative Diane Black (R-TN) to disapprove the D.C. Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA), which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees, their spouses or their dependents based on constitutionally protected reproductive health decisions. The RHNDA disapproval resolution was introduced in the Senate by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) just before announcing his bid for presidency, but it was never taken up. RHNDA went into effect on May 2, 2015. Outside special interest groups and two far-right Republican House caucuses have called on the House Appropriations Committee to block RHNDA.
• Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Representative Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) introduced a resolution to disapprove another D.C. anti-discrimination law, the 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. Working with a national coalition of LGBT and human rights organizations, Norton was successful in preventing even the consideration of the HRAA disapproval resolution in either chamber. HRAA went into effect on May 2, 2015. Outside special interest groups and two far-right Republican House caucuses have called on the House Appropriations Committee to block HRAA.
• Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Representative Jim (R-OH) introduced the National Rifle Association (NRA)-backed D.C. gun bill (S.874; H.R.1701), which would wipe out almost all of D.C.’s local gun safety laws, including its ban on assault weapons and large capacity magazines and its registration requirements, and prohibit D.C. from passing gun laws in the future, making the District one of the most permissive gun jurisdictions in the country. Rubio introduced the bill shortly before he announced his bid for presidency. In addition, after introducing his bill, Rubio’s NRA rating was upgraded from a B-plus to an A, a rare non-election year action.
• Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) introduced the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (S.582; H.R.7), which would, among other things, permanently prohibit the D.C. government from spending its local funds on abortion services for low-income women, prohibit D.C. government employees from providing abortions, prohibit abortions in D.C. government facilities, and define the D.C. government as part of the federal government for the purposes of abortion. H.R.7 passed the House.