Norton Releases Plan for Working in the New Congress
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November 3, 2010
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November 3, 2010
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WASHINGTON, DC -- Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) warned today that it would be a serious error to prejudge the effects of last night's congressional results on the city, and announced approaches to the newly elected House and Senate. Her plans include a strategic analysis of the members of the new Congress; introducing the new mayor to Republican and Democratic leaders, the pertinent committee and subcommittee chairs and ranking members, as well as close consultation with Mayor-elect Vincent Gray on her agenda; using her seniority on her committees and subcommittees for the greatest benefit to the city; and building on the momentum we gained in the current Congress for full democracy by working with city officials and the coalition for full democracy for the District.
"There is a difference between how to proceed on issues concerning the city's ongoing needs and what we must do to accomplish our democracy goals," Norton said. "We must continue the terrific momentum we have built for full democracy, including achieving a bipartisan House and Senate majority for the House vote for D.C. while we build toward 2012, a presidential election year, when there will be a larger, more representative electorate. My critical place on committees important to the District, including the top Democratic position on the major economic development subcommittee in the House, puts me in a good position to continue to bring jobs to D.C. and to maintain our tourist and federal jobs-based economy." As in previous years, Norton is looking for issues that Republicans will agree to work with her on, but she said that she is prepared to fight to protect the progress made for D.C. during the past four years in the Democratic majority.
The Congresswoman reminded constituents that she has spent most of her service in the minority and most often with a Republican president, but she has made important gains for the District during such periods on issues of interest to Republicans such as tax incentives and education. In addition to former Representative Tom Davis (R-VA), Norton worked very closely with former Speaker Newt Gingrich and Republican senators, including former Senator Trent Lott (R-MS), to achieve the $5,000 D.C. homebuyer tax credit and DCTAG, which, together, staunched the serious drain of taxpayers from the District, the land transfer bill giving D.C. ownership of valuable federal land, and her bill to develop the 60-acre Yards site.
"Don't get me wrong," Norton said. "It is going to be tough. This Congress could be more polarized than the prior one, and there may be Democrats as well as Republicans who try to interfere into our local affairs. But, I have always had to fight to protect the city's home rule legislative prerogatives whether Republicans or Democrats were in charge. I am fully prepared to fight again. That goes with the territory here."
Norton also pointed to some advantages the District will have. President Obama is armed with his formidable veto power. Senate Democrats retained their majority and therefore control the agenda, and sixty votes are required in the Senate to move a bill or amendment. New Tea Party members often appear to be libertarians, for whom federal intervention into local matters would normally be off-limits.
Norton said that only a careful analysis can yield a useful strategy for the District in the new Congress. She said that the new Republican majority will be less monolithic because Republicans won largely by picking up swing seats Democrats had previously held because of significant Democratic constituencies. At least eleven of these House races are still so close, they have yet to be decided. Moreover, the new Republican House majority is not as large as the current Democratic majority, showing that the country is still as divided as it was before the election.
"Even the Republicans concede that the election did not give their party a mandate. Frustrated by the slow recovery, the voters sent a message of ‘a pox on both houses.' This election was driven more by turnout than policy, and Democrats suffered not only because our base typically does not turnout in midterms, but also because frustration about the economy by independents, who decide elections in the U.S., led them to switch sides."