Norton Says Republican Markup of Disapproval of D.C.’s Death with Dignity Act on Thursday, Without Allowing D.C. Officials to Defend It, is an Undemocratic Assault on D.C. Home Rule


WASHINGTON, D.C. – (RealEstateRama) — Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today blasted the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee for announcing a markup of a disapproval resolution to nullify the District of Columbia’s medical aid-in-dying bill, the Death with Dignity Act, for Thursday, February 2, 2017, at 1:00 p.m., in 2154 Rayburn House Office Building, without giving D.C. officials the opportunity to defend it. Norton said the disapproval resolution to nullify D.C.’s entirely local legislation is an abuse of congressional authority over the District and violates the spirit of the Home Rule Act, which “relieve[d] Congress of the burden of legislating upon essentially local District matters.”

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

“While the D.C. Council followed the democratic process of holding a comprehensive hearing on its medical aid-in-dying bill to allow testimony from 69 experts and scores of residents on both sides of the issue, House Republicans have decided to impose their views and ideology on a local jurisdiction and to violate basic democratic norms,” Norton said. “The 680,000 Americans living in the District of Columbia deserve to have their local laws respected. The attack on D.C.’s right to self-government is compounded by the fact that D.C.’s Death with Dignity Act is substantially similar to the laws of the five states that have legalized medical aid in dying by statute and contains strong safeguards that protect against any potential abuses of the program. I support the District’s bill and will mount a vigorous defense on home-rule grounds at the markup. No Member who chooses to interfere with the District’s local law will get a free pass.”

According to Gallup, a majority of Americans (69% in 2016) have supported medical aid in dying since 1973.

Congress passed the Home Rule Act in 1973 giving D.C. authority over its local laws, but all D.C. bills must be transmitted to Congress for a review period before they can take effect. The Death with Dignity Act was transmitted for a 30-legislative-day review period on January 6, 2017. A bill takes effect at the expiration of the review period unless a resolution of disapproval is enacted into law during that period. Norton has prevented a disapproval resolution from being enacted into law since 1991.

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