Norton Gets Home-Rule Victory in Presidential Pension Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 20, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) announced she was successful in getting a change to a law that had treated the District of Columbia government as a part of the federal government, as it was in 1958, passed today at an Oversight and Government Reform Committee (OGR) markup. Norton’s change was included in an updated version of a 1958 law that kept former presidents and first ladies from collecting pensions during any period at which they worked for either the federal or D.C. government. The law had not been updated to recognize the District of Columbia as an independent jurisdiction with a locally elected government, which was established by the Home Rule Act of 1973. Norton thanked Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) for helping the District be recognized as an independent jurisdiction, but afterward, she said, laughingly, that she only wished she could get OGR Republicans to recognize D.C.’s independence more often in bills that come before the Committee. Just last month, OGR Republicans voted to overturn a local D.C. law for the first time in more than two decades.
“This is a small change, but we must not allow any bill to characterize our independent jurisdiction as a part of the federal government,” Norton said. “Too many Members of the Committee have not understood our equality as taxpaying citizens without adding to their often willing confusion.”
Below is Norton’s committee statement on the bill, as prepared for delivery.
Statement of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton on the Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute to H.R. 1777, Presidential Allowance Modernization Act
I would like to thank Chairman Chaffetz and Ranking Member Cummings for working with me on the Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute to reflect the changes to the status of the District of Columbia government since the enactment of the Former Presidents Act of 1958.
In 1958, the District of Columbia had no elected local government. Instead, the D.C. government was run by three presidentially appointed commissioners, all locally raised D.C. funds were deposited in the U.S. Treasury, and the federal government paid the employer contribution of the pensions of D.C. government employees. The Former Presidents Act was intended to prevent former presidents and first ladies from double dipping from the U.S. Treasury by collecting a federal pension during any period they were employed by the federal government or the D.C. government. However, the Former Presidents Act became outdated with respect to the D.C. government after Congress passed the Home Rule Act of 1973, and it needs to be updated.
The Home Rule Act granted D.C. a locally elected government. Under the Home Rule Act, D.C. local funds are deposited in D.C. government accounts, not the U.S. Treasury, and the D.C. government pays the employer contribution of the pensions of its own employees. Therefore, under the Home Rule Act, former presidents and first ladies would not be double dipping by collecting a federal pension and a salary from the D.C. government, since the D.C. government pays the employer contribution of the pensions of its own employees.
Again, I thank the chairman and ranking member for working with me, and I urge adoption of the Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute.