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D.C. appeals to Republicans for expanded voting rights

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton speaks at a news conference Monday on Capitol Hill. On Tuesday, she will go to the House floor to demand the District's vote in the Committee of the Whole be restored. (WTOP/Andrew Mollenebck)
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton speaks at a news conference Monday on Capitol Hill. On Tuesday, she will go to the House floor to demand the District’s vote in the Committee of the Whole be restored. (WTOP/Andrew Mollenebck)

WASHINGTON — The corridors of Capitol Hill are lined with paintbrushes, ladders and hammers as the 114th Congress moves in to its new digs.

Before the dust settles and while good will runs high, D.C. leaders will appeal to the new faces in the Republican majority for greater voting rights.

On Tuesday, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton plans to take to the House floor in an effort to win back the District’s vote in the Committee of the Whole, which she had during three Congresses.

“I will make the point that in a democracy, the vote can never be tied to the party in power,” she says. “The vote is tied to the people.”

The District’s delegate currently votes in committees but not in the Committee of the Whole, which consists of the entire House of Representatives.

Norton was prudent in complimenting certain Republicans who, in the past, were supportive or open to greater voting rights for the District.

The District will have to rely on relationships with a Republican party whose beliefs are often at odds with its own.

Republicans now control both the House and Senate, but Norton and Mayor Muriel Bowser both stressed that the new power doesn’t have to preclude new rights for the District.

It is optimistic, they acknowledge, but worth a shot.

“Restoring the District’s vote [in the Committee on the Whole] would be a no-cost way to signal the intention of the Republican majority to govern with fairness and in the best interest and traditions of American democracy,” Norton says.

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