WASHINGTON – November 16, 2016 – (RealEstateRama) — Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today released her biennial letter to new members of the House and Senate, offering useful information on why they might want to live in one of “the world’s most beautiful and pleasant cities” and inviting them to cosponsor her District of Columbia statehood bill. The letter also discussed how D.C. is “the only city on the congressional agenda.” She wrote, “although some District matters may come to the floor, D.C. residents, like your own constituents, feel strongly that local decisions must be respected, and residents object strongly to interference from Congress into D.C. law and local prerogatives.”
Norton also offered help with locating public and private services and cautioned members about the rules concerning parking tickets. She previewed “Ask Me About D.C.,” which Norton sponsors annually in February with Destination D.C. to acquaint members with the city’s entertainment, sports attractions, tourist sites and other amenities.
Norton’s full letter follows.
A GUIDE TO THE HELP AND INFORMATION
MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE AND SENATE MAY NEED
IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA?
Congratulations! Your election to the House of Representatives or the Senate means that you will now spend more time in the District of Columbia than in your home district or state. I write to offer a special welcome and my assistance as the only Member of Congress who represents the people of the host city of the Congress and the federal government. We also want you to have important information about the District and its relationship to the federal government because local legislation uniquely affecting this city may come before you as a Member of Congress.
DISTRICT NEIGHBORHOODS AND HOUSING
The District is a growing, lovely, livable and hospitable city of more than 650,000 residents with world-class entertainment and sports, many forms of public transportation and breathtaking monuments and sites that you and your constituents will enjoy. We invite you to consider living in one of our tree-lined neighborhoods, along with many other House and Senate members. D.C. has it all — houses, condos and apartments located in suburban-like neighborhoods, homes in Rock Creek Park and town houses in equally livable center-town communities, such as nearby Capitol Hill (where I live) and Hillcrest, east of the Anacostia River. If you are considering living in the District, feel free to contact me personally if you could use some advice or guidance. I am a third-generation Washingtonian, but more important, I can put you in touch with the experts and assistance that you may need on housing, transportation and other city matters.
HELP WITH PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SERVICES IN D.C.
Whether or not you live in the city, you may encounter an occasional problem or have questions about the District’s public and private sectors, including for yourself, your family or your constituents. Many of your constituents will come to Washington to visit and consult with you. The District is one of the world’s major tourist destinations. You will shortly receive an invitation to “Ask Me About DC,” a live exhibition featuring representatives from the District’s many sports, entertainment and other amenities, who will answer the questions of
Members and staff about everything in the city. A light lunch will be offered. However, if you have a question related to city services, please be in touch with me or my office. For example, transportation, trash, recycling, water, pothole and similar issues inevitably arise in every jurisdiction. My office has had Members inquire concerning every kind of service, even for a Member who needed a marriage license (we loved that). Rather than trying to figure out where to turn in the city or the city government, please call me or my office first. If you have a service need or problem, call me personally at 202-225-8050 or have your staff call my Chief of Staff. We will either pursue the matter on your behalf or put you in direct contact with a specific individual in the appropriate District agency who will be helpful until the matter is resolved. If for any reason a problem is not completely resolved, we will help with further follow-through.
By federal statute, Members of Congress may park their vehicles at any available curb space in the city when the vehicle is used by the Member on official business, and the vehicle is displaying his or her congressional tag. The vehicle is exempt from tickets by statute if it is not parked in violation of a loading zone, rush hour, firehouse, or fire hydrant limitation.
THE ONLY CITY ON THE CONGRESSIONAL AGENDA
You will need to know a little something about the District as a hometown jurisdiction because, regretfully, some of your time may be spent voting on purely local and justifiably unfamiliar D.C. matters, unrelated to federal affairs. We hope that you agree that, despite residual congressional power, there is no justification in the 21st century for congressional bills on purely local matters anywhere. Restrictions on basic democracy are discredited holdovers from our history, but democratic local self-government is respected by every American and every jurisdiction today. Polls show that Americans of every background believe D.C. residents should have equal representation and treatment in Congress. As you can imagine, although some District matters may come to the floor, D.C. residents, like your own constituents, feel strongly that local decisions must be respected, and residents object strongly to interference from Congress into D.C. law and local prerogatives.
Like every large city, the District has more poverty and crime than suburban communities, but this city is dominated by a diverse, majority middle class. Analysts, congressional leaders, and residents alike agree that the District has had great success in attracting residents and businesses. The city government has been well managed for years and has one of the largest surpluses of any U.S. jurisdiction. You will find the people of the District to be dedicated and accomplished Americans.
TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION
D.C. residents pay $12,000 per capita annually in federal income taxes, more than any state. They are the only American citizens who pay full federal taxes but do not have full representation in the House and none in the Senate (I have the full vote in House committees, I am ranking member of a subcommittee, and I have all the privileges as a member of the House, except the vote on final passage of legislation).
The House and the Senate passed the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act in 2007 and 2009, respectively, which would have permitted the Americans who live in the nation’s capital to have voting representation in the House and temporarily added an additional seat in the House for Utah. That bill passed with bipartisan support, but fell victim to an unrelated amendment. Senator Thomas Carper and I have since introduced in the Senate and the House, respectively, a statehood bill for the District of Columbia, which I hope you will cosponsor.
The District is one of the world’s most beautiful and pleasant cities. Cabinet members, agency heads and officials, many members of the House and Senate, and major news media figures live in our neighborhoods with local citizens. If you have not decided on a permanent congressional residence, I hope you will consider this city. However, whether as a hometown community, or the city where you do your most important work, you will find D.C. officials, residents, and businesses ready to help you enjoy the city, and my office and I are at your disposal.
I look forward to meeting you and working with you in the 115th Congress.
Eleanor Holmes Norton