Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) addressed the College Democrats and other members of the Georgetown community on the prospect of D.C. residents obtaining a voting representative in the near future Tuesday evening.

Currently in her 10th term as the District’s congressional representative, Norton has put the fight for voting rights in D.C. at the top of her agenda during her time in Congress.

The District of Columbia does not currently have a vote in either congressional chamber, similar to that of the U.S. territories such as Guam and Puerto Rico, with the exception that the citizens in D.C. pay federal taxes.

Norton, like her counterparts from U.S. territories, is a recognized member of the House of Representatives where she is able to be a voting member of the various committees in the House; she cannot, however, vote on the floor when the House convenes. She announced Tuesday that the struggle for representation was almost over.

“We are on the verge, and this time we really are, of finally getting this bill through both houses,” Norton said.

The bill Norton refers to is the D.C. Voting Rights Act of 2009 that has already passed through the Senate and now waits for a vote in the House. As of late, the legislation has been stalled by debate over the Ensign Amendment, introduced by Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) in February 2009, which proposes to alter the gun laws in the District. Despite this setback, Norton insisted that the time to achieve representation is now.

“We have got to go to the House floor soon. We have what can only be called a dwindling majority. We lost our 60 votes. We may lose more in the Senate,” Norton said.

Invoking the history of the American Revolution, Norton went on to describe the District’s long struggle for representation and how this struggle has centered on the same slogan that first sparked the fight for American independence – “no taxation without representation.”

In addition, the congresswoman expressed strong dissatisfaction that men and women from D.C. serve in the U.S. armed forces and lose their lives overseas while at the same time lack representation at home. She told of the continued “indignity” that her constituents are paid as people in Baghdad have received representation before citizens of D.C.

A native of Ward Six and a graduate of the D.C. Public School system, Raahiyl Briscoe (COL ’12) attended the event to hear Norton speak about an issue that affects her more than most Georgetown students. Voicing support for Norton’s efforts, Briscoe insisted that many reforms need to take place in the District, especially in the education system.

“Having been a graduate of D.C.’s public schools, a lot needs to be done. I’m all for [Norton] and her efforts,” Briscoe said.

Norton spent the latter half of the event calling for Democrats to re-examine their position and to prepare for a battle at the polls in November. Citing the recent Democratic losses in the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial races and Massachusetts Senate race, Norton advised Democrats to recognize the reality of the fight at hand.

“The votes in Virginia, New Jersey and even progressive Massachusetts – all Obama states – should sober drunk Democrats, drunk still with the inauguration, still flying balloons. If those three losses don’t sober us before 2010 there will not be a Democratic House, and there will not be a Democratic Senate,” Norton said.

Norton went on to discuss the electoral run of President Obama and praised the efforts of students across the nation as being the backbone of support for his campaign. Terming Obama’s rise to the Oval Office the “Obama movement,” Norton maintained that November’s midterm elections would reveal whether or not the movement was real and vital or just a passing phenomenon.”

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*