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Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Representing the District of Columbia

Places in Washington DC

To Mark D.C. Flag Day, Norton Celebrates New D.C. Statehood Bill Cosponsors, Introduces Flag Bill to Honor Deceased D.C. Mayors

Jun 14, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In recognition of National Flag Day, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) released a picture with their respective flags, the 1st state and the 51st state, celebrating the record number of cosponsors in the Senate (32) and House (213) on their bill to make the District of Columbia the 51st state.  Norton also introduced her bill that would permit the United States flag to be flown at half-staff after the death of a D.C. Mayor, in the same manner as it is now flown for governors of states and territories.

“Flag day this year has special significance for the District, which is close to a successful House vote to become the 51st state,” said Norton.  “I also note that approaching Flag Day, there has been a pick up on House Members signing on as cosponsors, bringing us to 213.  At the same time, we continue on our second track to complete D.C. equality rule by introducing a bill that would allow the country to recognize the death of a D.C. Mayor, the District’s chief executive officer, by flying the nation’s flag at half-staff.  Current law provides this recognition for the governors of the states and territories.  The Congress has the authority to pass our Free and Equal Series of bills, including today’s flag bill without statehood. While pursuing statehood, we intend to pursue all roads that lead to equal citizenship for D.C. residents.”


The full text of the introductory statement on the bill is below.

Statement of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton on

the Introduction of a Bill to Permit the Flag of the United States to be Flown at Half-Staff in the Event of the Death of a Mayor of the District of Columbia

Today, I introduce a bill that would make a small but respectful change to federal law by adding the Mayor of the District of Columbia to the list of named principals for whom the President can order the U.S. flag be flown at half-staff.  Current law states that the President shall make this order “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.”  Surely the death of a current or former D.C. Mayor should qualify as a principal.  My bill would add D.C. Mayors, who have the same responsibilities as state and territory governors, to the current list of officials.  This bill is a continuation of our “Free and Equal D.C.” series to ensure fair recognition of the nearly 700,000 citizens of the District of Columbia. 

Congress has already acknowledged that the District of Columbia is entitled to a place among the states for certain honors.  The requested addition is not as significant as others Congress has already recognized.  For example, legislation has ensured that the District of Columbia War Memorial honors only District residents who served in World War I, as intended, and that D.C.’s Frederick Douglass statue sits in the Capitol, alongside statues from the 50 states.  We also successfully worked with the U.S. Postal Service to create a D.C. stamp, like the stamps for the 50 states, and worked with the National Park Service to add the D.C. flag alongside the state flags near Union Station.

Legislation was also enacted to give D.C. a coin after it was omitted from legislation creating coins for the 50 states.  Legislation was needed to require the armed services to display the District flag whenever the flags of the states are displayed.  With these significant actions by Congress, it is not too much to ask to add the Mayor to the list of principals who are recognized upon their deaths.

I urge my colleagues to support this bill.