Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) will take to the House floor tomorrow, Thursday, January 3, 2012, to demand that the House restore D.C.'s right to vote in the Committee of the Whole, the District's first and only vote on the House floor. The draft rules for the 113th Congress have now been published, and do not permit the District to vote in the Committee of the Whole, despite Norton's request in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). Norton first won the Committee of the Whole vote in the 103rd Congress, after it was ruled constitutional by a federal district court and a federal appeals court. Since then, she has been permitted to vote on the House floor when Democrats are in power, but prohibited from doing so when Republicans control the House. The Congresswoman will fight to restore the vote by forcing the House to vote on it, immediately after the vote to elect the Speaker of the House tomorrow.
Although not a vote on final passage of legislation, the Committee of the Whole vote permits the District a vote on the House floor on many matters that are included in final legislation. Norton won this vote after she submitted a legal memorandum arguing that the District had a vote in standing committees by rule of the House of Representatives, and therefore, should have the same vote in the Committee of the Whole, which is also established by House rules.
"I will ask the House to restore the District's vote in the Committee of the Whole tomorrow out of respect for the more than 600,000 residents of D.C., who pay more than their fair share of federal taxes," Norton said. "Taking from our residents a vote we have exercised in the past, with the sanction of the federal courts, is unique in our history and would dismay the American people. Withdrawing a constitutional vote deserves a fight and a fight is what it will get tomorrow."