While the District’s representative to the U.S. Congress doesn’t have a final vote on the floor of the House of Representatives, that hasn’t hampered her effectiveness, according to a recent study.
On March 1, the Center for Effective Lawmaking, led by professors at the University of Virginia and Vanderbilt University, rated Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) as the most effective Democrat of the previous congressional session, which ended Dec. 31, 2017.
The center said Norton’s ranking is noteworthy because she is a nonvoting member and credited her for being able to block Republican attempts to block or overturn local District laws.
Norton has served in the House since 1991 and only when Democrats are in power can she vote in the critical Committee of the Whole on the House floor that determines whether legislation passes before the final vote takes place. When Republicans controlled the House, which has been the case for most of her tenure on Capitol Hill, she worked with them as best as she could by getting government funding for the District and often supporting their projects on the Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure, where she served as the ranking Democrat and now the chairman of the Subcommittee on Highways & Transit.
Norton embraced the recognition.
“I hope this recognition of effectiveness encourages D.C. residents to believe we can win if they continue to fight alongside me as we plan for a House floor vote on D.C. statehood this Congress,” she said.
Seven days later, Norton’s effectiveness became clear.
The District won a major landmark vote in the House on March 8, when H.R. 1 — known as the For the People Act, and includes a provision that supports the District becoming the 51st state — passed the House, 234-193, marking the first time in history that a congressional chamber has embraced D.C. statehood.
Norton expressed elation at the development.
“There is no other way to describe it — this is historic,” the delegate said. “After decades of struggle, the House of Representatives endorsed D.C. statehood in our major democracy reform bill. In 2019, D.C. residents cannot make up for two centuries of carrying all of the obligations of citizenship without full equality. This vote comes too late for members of the armed forces who have served in all of the nation’s wars without the rights of those who fought beside them.
“What today’s vote does do is pave the way for H.R. 51, the Washington, D.C. Admissions Act, and assures we are on the cusp of righting one of the nation’s oldest continuing wrongs,” she said.
On March 5, Norton announced she secured 200 co-sponsors for her statehood bill, the highest number ever.
Norton’s D.C. Admissions bill has the support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, who has promised a hearing on Norton’s statehood bill.
Incidentally, Cummings ranked second after Norton on the center’s effectiveness list. Norton also sits on Cummings’ committee.
In the Senate, Thomas Carper (D-Del.) has a companion bill on D.C. statehood that has 28 co-sponsors.