Norton seeks to keep 'Committee of the Whole' vote
With Republicans set to take control of the House in January, the prospects for District voting rights don't look great. So Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) is trying to keep one of the few legislative privileges she does have.
Norton isn't allowed full voting rights on the House floor, but she is allowed to vote in the Committee of the Whole -- a legislative term that describes when the full House chamber essentially becomes a committee for the purposes of considering legislation.
The House becomes the Committee of the Whole when considering amendments on tax and spending bills. Norton has been allowed to vote on those amendments, though not on final passage of the measures, while Democrats have been in the majority. But Republicans did not allow her that privilege during their reign from 1995-2007.
On Monday, Norton wrote to presumptive Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to ask that she be allowed to keep the vote in the 112th Congress.
"The opportunity to vote in committees, now including the Committee of the Whole, is significant to the American citizens who live in the nation's capital and pay full federal taxes annually to support our federal government," Norton said in a news release.
Norton's release notes that she is only referring to the District and not to U.S. territories, since "[u]nlike residents of the territories, who do not have federal income tax obligations, District residents have the same obligations of citizenship as the residents of the states, including service in every war, beginning with the Revolutionary War."
In the past, Republicans have challenged in court whether D.C.'s delegate should be permitted to vote in the Committee of the Whole, but federal courts have upheld the constitutionality of the practice.
So what will the GOP do? According to Boehner spokesman Michael Steel, "No decision has been made on that issue at this time."
| November 16, 2010; 12:15 PM ET
Categories: GOP, Ben Pershing, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Voting Rights
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