As Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), a member of the Surface Transportation Bill conference committee, spoke at the committee's first meeting yesterday, one of her priorities was already in the Senate version of the bill, the reauthorization of a federal grant program her bill created for states to develop racial profiling laws, to collect and maintain data on traffic stops, to fashion programs to reduce racial profiling, and to train law enforcement officers. Inspired by the Travyon Martin tragedy, Norton sought reauthorization of the program, which she got into the Surface Transportation bill in 2005. Now that House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has appointed her to the conference committee, Norton will be in a position to protect the grant program. "Particularly in the year of the Trayvon Martin tragedy, we must be serious about eliminating racial profiling and authorize steps to address the issue," Norton said.
In February, Norton was successful in getting her amendment to require audits of the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation (USRC), which runs Union Station, in the version of the Surface Transportation approved by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Although Union Station is undergoing extensive renovation and expansion, USRC, which manages Union Station and coordinates the transportation and retail housed there, had never had a full audit until this year, when Norton requested that the Department of Transportation Inspector General conduct an audit, which is now underway.
At yesterday's meeting, however, Norton was one of the few members who did not engage in special pleas for amendments or perks in the bill. Instead, she said she would not "detail my druthers" for the bill. "This is likely to be the only jobs bill in the 112th Congress that most Americans would recognize as such." She said that the Senate bill contained tons of compromises, and more would have to be made, and called for the conference committee to get the job done for jobs and the economy.