Norton slams anti-democratic congressional effort to block D.C. Death with Dignity Act
Contact: Benjamin Fritsch – o: 202-225-8050, c: 202-225-8143
January 12, 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) said she plans to mount a vigorous defense of the District of Columbia’s medical aid-in-dying bill, the Death with Dignity Act, from congressional attacks after Senator James Lankford (R-OK) and Representative Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) today introduced resolutions of disapproval to block the District’s local legislation from taking effect.
“Senator Lankford and Representative Wenstrup claim to carry the mantle for a small, limited federal government, yet they have introduced bills that abuse the federal government’s power over the District in order to interfere with our purely local affairs,” Norton said. “It is particularly disappointing that Senator Lankford has chosen to abuse congressional authority over D.C., as I have worked successfully with him on federal matters affecting the District, including reforms and improvement to the D.C. courts. The District held hearings and heard vigorous and thoughtful debate from both sides of this controversial issue. Ultimately, the local officials who represent the 680,000 American citizens living in the District of Columbia deliberated and passed the Death with Dignity Act. Unaccountable Members of Congress have no business legislating on the local affairs of our jurisdiction. Since they believe medical aid-in dying is bad policy, Senator Lankford and Representative Wenstrup should advocate their positions on the national stage, where Congress has clear jurisdiction, and introduce bills to prohibit physicians nationwide from prescribing lethal doses of medication, instead of singling the District out for different treatment. The House and Senate have more than enough on their plates trying to solve the many issues facing our country. While Congress tackles the country’s issues, we ask that Congress let the District handle its own local issues, a right enjoyed by every other jurisdiction. I am ready to fight these naked attacks on the District’s local democracy until the day D.C.’s Death with Dignity Act becomes law.”
Under the Home Rule Act of 1973, all D.C. legislation must be transmitted to Congress for a review period before they can take effect. 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.