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Norton Spins Thomas Resignation for Home Rule

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    U.S. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC)

    Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton is using the special election to replace Harry Thomas Jr. on the D.C. Council to call attention to the home rule issue yet again.

    There is a waiting period of 114 days before the election can be held, but Norton would like it to happen sooner. Her bill to reduce the special election waiting period to 70 days passed the House last year, but a senator placed a hold on it.

    If the bill had gone through, the election to replace Thomas could conveniently and less expensively be held on primary day -- April 3.

    “This bill was so inconsequential to the House that we got it through committee and the full House by voice vote,” Norton said.  “Now Ward 5 is left without representation for almost four months because of a secret Senate hold on a non-controversial local bill.  Senators often use holds as part of a bargaining process unrelated to the underlying bill.  No reason would be sufficient for holding up this bill, but we particularly resent being a pawn in a Senate game that pointedly excludes us.”

    Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), now the chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, agreed last year that D.C. shouldn’t have to get congressional approval for such matters.

    Norton will bring the bill up again this year, but she suggested a better route may be a charter amendment, which, after being passed by the council and D.C. voters via referendum, would be subject to a 35-day review period in Congress before taking effect.

    Of course, neither option gets the Ward 5 special election on primary day.