News & Politics

DC Voting Rights Event Delayed By Congress Trampling on DC Voting Rights

Photograph by Eric Liebowitz via HBO.

Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s non-voting delegate in Congress, is postponing a briefing at which she planned to convene to show House staffers a clip from HBO’s Last Week Tonight highlighting the District’s lack of self-determination so that she can deal with House Republicans’ latest attempt to meddle in DC’s local affairs.

At the event, which was scheduled originally for Wednesday afternoon, would have featured John Oliver‘s 17-minute segment about the District’s standing as the only capital of a modern democracy that lacks full representation in its national legislature. Oliver’s bit ended with a children’s chorus singing a song about DC’s lack of statehood; the song was later performed by a gaggle of District kids on Capitol Hill. Norton was also counting on a legal briefing from former US Assistant Attorney General Viet Dinh about the constitutional framework for legislation advancing the District’s statehood ambitions.

Instead, Norton will be spending Wednesday hustling her fellow Democrats to vote against an earlier-than-expected vote to reauthorize a school-voucher program that gives DC families federal funds to send their children to private schools, many of which are parochial. The program, which launched in 2004, is not scheduled to expire until 2016, but Norton’s office says House Speaker John Boehner wants to reauthorize it to before he retires.

Boehner rushed the bill through the House Oversight Committee, which oversees the District, earlier this month over the objections of a majority of the DC Council who oppose the voucher program because it directs federal money away from the city’s public schools.

Mayor Muriel Bowser‘s administration hedges on the program. We support federal funding that benefits District residents,” Bowser spokesperson Michael Czin says. “The District has been a model for education reform and the Mayor is committed to building on our successes.”

Norton’s office says the briefing has been rescheduled for November 17.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.