Norton Shares Optimism on D.C. Voting Rights

Bill Clears Senate Panel; Obama Support Remains

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) is confident that President Obama will continue to support voting rights for the District of Columbia, which also cleared a Senate committee yesterday.

“As a senator, Obama was a co-sponsor of the Voting Rights Act,” Norton told Ward 7 Democrats at their monthly meeting at Ward Memorial AME Church. “Our new president is in our corner in so many ways.”

A House subcommittee also held a hearing on Jan. 27 to discuss the issue. Norton mentioned that supporters of D.C. voting rights have a larger majority in the House from the last time the bill was proposed. Though the District has gained seven Democratic supporters and lost no Republican supporters, Norton admits there is still a fight to push the bill through Congress. However, this time the outlook seems to be a bit brighter with a president who is trying to stay connected to the residents of his temporary home.

At the Ward 7 Democrats meeting, Norton also gave a brief overview of financial and construction projects approved for the city and the introduction of the D.C. “state” coin.

Since the start of the new administration, Congress has reauthorized funds for the D.C. Tuition Assistance Program, which grants financial aid to a District student who wishes to attend a participating state college or university.

Plans are moving forward for construction of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on the campus of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Ward 8. The DHS headquarters would be the largest construction project in the area since the Pentagon. About 40 percent of the small business contracts would be go to companies in D.C., giving local small construction businesses a boost. Norton said D.C. was almost left off the radar screen to receive a coin, all because it is not a state. With some convincing, Congress acted to push the D.C. quarter, which features D.C. native and jazz musician Duke Ellington.

Released a day before the voting rights hearing, the coin represents another step in proving the equality and pride of D.C. residents, Norton said.