Eleanor Holmes Norton Committee Assignments In Congress

Eleanor Holmes Norton (born June 13, 1937) is an American politician serving as a non-voting Delegate to the United States House of Representatives representing the District of Columbia. As a non-voting member, Norton may serve on committees as well as speak on the House floor; however, she is not permitted to vote on the final passage of any legislation.

Early life and career accomplishments[edit]

Eleanor Holmes was born in Washington, D.C., the daughter of Vela (née Lynch), a schoolteacher, and Coleman Holmes, a civil servant. She attended Antioch College (B.A. 1960), Yale University (M.A. in American Studies 1963)[1] and Yale Law School (Law 1964).[2]

While in college and graduate school, she was active in the civil rights movement and an organizer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. By the time she graduated from Antioch, she had already been arrested for organizing and participating in sit-ins in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Ohio. While in law school, she traveled to Mississippi for the Mississippi Freedom Summer and worked with civil rights stalwarts like Medgar Evers. Her first encounter with a recently released but physically beaten Fannie Lou Hamer forced her to bear witness to the intensity of violence and Jim Crow repression in the South.[3] Her time with the SNCC inspired her lifelong commitment to social activism and her budding sense of feminism. She contributed the piece "For Sadie and Maud" to the 1970 anthology Sisterhood is Powerful: An Anthology of Writings From The Women's Liberation Movement, edited by Robin Morgan.[4][5] Norton was on the founding advisory board of the Women's Rights Law Reporter (founded 1970), the first legal periodical in the United States to focus exclusively on the field of women’s rights law. In the early 1970s, Norton was a signer of the Black Woman’s Manifesto, a classic document of the Black feminist movement.[6]

Upon graduation from law school, she worked as a law clerk to Federal District CourtJudgeA. Leon Higginbotham, Jr.[1] In 1965, she became the assistant legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, a position she held until 1970.[7] In 1970, Norton represented sixty female employees of Newsweek who had filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that Newsweek had a policy of only allowing men to be reporters.[8] The women won, and Newsweek agreed to allow women to be reporters.[8]

Holmes Norton specialized in freedom of speech cases, and her work included winning a Supreme Court case on behalf of the National States' Rights Party,[9] a victory she put into perspective in an interview with one of the District of Columbia Bar's website editors: "I defended the First Amendment, and you seldom get to defend the First Amendment by defending people you like ... You don’t know whether the First Amendment is alive and well until it is tested by people with despicable ideas. And I loved the idea of looking a racist in the face—remember this was a time when racism was much more alive and well than it is today—and saying, 'I am your lawyer, sir, what are you going to do about that?'"[1] Norton worked as an adjunct assistant professor at New York University Law School from 1970 to 1971.[10] In 1970, Mayor John Lindsay appointed her as the head of the New York City Human Rights Commission, and she held the first hearings in the country on discrimination against women.[11] Prominent feminists from throughout the country came to New York City to testify, while Norton used the platform as a means of raising public awareness about the application of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to women and sex discrimination.[3]

Appointed by President Jimmy Carter as the first female Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 1977,[7] Norton released the EEOC's first set of regulations outlining what constituted sexual harassment and declaring that sexual harassment was indeed a form of sexual discrimination that violated federal civil rights laws.[12][13]

She has also served as a senior fellow of the Urban Institute.[14] Norton became a professor at Georgetown University Law Center in 1982.[7] During this time, she was a vocal anti-apartheid activist in the U.S., and was a part of the Free South Africa Movement.

In 1990, Norton, along with 15 other African American women and one man, formed African-American Women for Reproductive Freedom.[15]

She contributed the piece "Notes of a Feminist Long Distance Runner" to the 2003 anthology Sisterhood Is Forever: The Women's Anthology for a New Millennium, edited by Robin Morgan.[16]

She received a Foremother Award for her lifetime of accomplishments from the National Research Center for Women & Families in 2011.[17]

Delegate to Congress[edit]

See also: District of Columbia voting rights

Norton was elected in 1990 as a Democratic delegate to the House of Representatives and uses the title "Congresswoman."[18] She defeated city council member Betty Ann Kane in the primary despite the last-minute revelation that Norton and her husband, both lawyers, had failed to file D.C. income tax returns between 1982 and 1989.[19] The Nortons paid over $80,000 in back taxes and fines.[20][21] Her campaign manager was Donna Brazile.[21] The delegate position was open because Del. Walter Fauntroy was running for mayor rather than seeking reelection.[22] Norton received 39 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary election,[23] and 59 percent of the vote in the general election.[24] Norton took office on January 3, 1991, and has been reelected every two years since.[22]

Delegates to Congress are entitled to sit in the House of Representatives and vote in committee, and to offer amendments in the Committee of the Whole, but they are not allowed to take part in legislative floor votes.[25][26] The District and four U.S. territories—Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands—send delegates to Congress; the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico has the same rights as delegates.[25]

William Thomas and the White House Peace Vigil inspired Norton to introduce the Nuclear Disarmament and Economic Conversion Act, which would require the United States to disable and dismantle its nuclear weapons when all other nations possessing nuclear weapons do likewise.[27] Norton has been introducing a version of the bill since 1994.[27]

Legislation strongly supported by Norton that would grant the District of Columbia a voting representative in the House, the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2009, was passed by the United States Senate on February 26, 2009. However the legislation stalled in the House and failed to pass prior to the end of the 111th Congress.

The legislation proposed in 2009 did not grant Norton the right to vote in the 111th Congress, as she would have had to remain in her elected office of delegate for the duration of her two-year term.[28]

In September 2010, the national press criticized Norton after the release of a voice message in which she solicits campaign funds from a lobbyist who represents a project that she oversees. Norton countered that the message was typical of appeals made by all members of Congress and that the call was made from campaign offices not paid for by taxpayers.[29] In March 2012, the public radio series This American Life featured the voicemail message at the start of a program on lobbying titled "Take the Money and Run for Office".[30]

In May 2012, Norton was blocked from testifying on an anti-abortion bill in her district—the second time she has been blocked from speaking about abortion. She insisted that it was a denial of a common courtesy. Representative Jerrold Nadler supported Norton's protest, saying "Never in my 20 years as a member of Congress have I seen a colleague treated so contemptuously."[31][32][33]

In August 2014, after the D.C. Board of Elections voted to put a question about marijuana legalization on the ballot in November 2014, Norton vowed to defend against any congressional attempt to stop the District from voting on the issue and to, if approved, fight any attempt to prevent implementation.[34]

She is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus[35] and the Congressional Black Caucus.[36]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]


  • On July 8, 2013 Norton sponsored H.R. 2611 (An act to designate the Douglas A. Munro Coast Guard Headquarters Building (H.R. 2611; 113th Congress)) to name the new Coast Guard headquarters after Munro, the United States Coast Guard's only Medal of Honor recipient.[38]
  • On October 28, 2013 Norton sponsored H.R. 3343 (To amend the District of Columbia Home Rule Act to clarify the rules regarding the determination of the compensation of the Chief Financial Officer of the District of Columbia), a bill that would increase the cap on D.C.'s CFO pay from $199,700 to around $250,000.[39][40]
  • On March 10, 2014, Norton sponsored the District of Columbia Courts, Public Defender Service, and Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency Act of 2014 (H.R. 4185; 113th Congress), a bill that would make changes to the District of Columbia Official Code that governs the D.C. Courts system.[41][42] Norton argued that the bill "will help make our local justice process more efficient and, therefore, more effective for the residents of the District."[43]

Legislation supported[edit]


On July 27, 2006, Norton appeared on the "Better Know a District" segment of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, in which she spiritedly defended the District of Columbia's claim to being a part of the United States.[47] Norton also appeared on the joint Colbert Report/Daily Show "Midterm Midtacular" special on November 7, 2006.[48] Norton gave further interviews to Stephen Colbert on March 22, 2007,[49] and April 24, 2007, on the subject of representation in the District of Columbia.[50] On February 12, 2008, Colbert and Norton discussed her status as a superdelegate as well as her support of Barack Obama for President.[51] She appeared once again on February 11, 2009 to discuss D.C. representation and promised Colbert that she would make him an honorary citizen of Washington, D.C., and give him a key to the city, if D.C. citizens were given representation. Colbert in turn gave Norton a "TV promise" that he would be there should that happen.[52] Norton made a further appearance on Colbert's show on June 25, 2014, where she discussed the impact that African American democrats had on incumbent Thad Cochran's primary defeat of Chris McDaniel, a Tea Party candidate, as well as Colbert's final episode among a cadre of past guests.[53]

Colbert and Norton maintain a satirical rivalry, with their interviews usually involving Colbert belittling Norton's fight for fair representation of D.C. and, in retaliation, Norton famously questioning Colbert's nationality due to the pronunciation of his surname.[citation needed]

Norton is a regular panelist on the PBS women's news program To the Contrary.[citation needed]

On June 27, 2008, Norton appeared on Democracy Now! to discuss the Supreme Court's ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller,[54] which she strongly opposed. On December 5, 2014, Norton appeared on Hannity to discuss the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri on which she admitted she did not read the evidence of the case but criticized the racial profiling young African Americans.[55][56]


On October 2, 2014 ABC News reported that Del. Holmes Norton, discussing her co-sponsorship of a bill aimed at changing the National Football League's tax-exempt status, stated: "The NFL greed is so widespread that they’ve chosen to operate as a tax-exempt organization. So we want to take that choice away from them unless, and until, they decide not to profit from a name that has now officially been declared a racial slur.”[57] In essence, Del. Holmes Norton's position was that until the NFL forced the Washington Redskins owner (Daniel Marc Snyder) to change the team name she would support legislation that would change the NFL's tax status thereby costing the league money.[58]

In popular culture[edit]

Eleanor Holmes Norton is portrayed by Joy Bryant in Amazon Video's original series Good Girls Revolt.[59]

She is featured in the feminist history film She's Beautiful When She's Angry.[60][61]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ abcStaff (June–July 1997). "Legends in the Law. A Conversation with Eleanor Holmes Norton". The District of Columbia Bar. Retrieved March 16, 2012. 
  2. ^Biography of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton
  3. ^ abVoices of the Civil Rights MovementArchived February 2, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^"Sisterhood is powerful : an anthology of writings from the women's liberation movement (Book, 1970)". [WorldCat.org]. Retrieved May 8, 2015. 
  5. ^Rosalyn Baxandall; Linda Gordon (May 17, 2001). Dear Sisters: Dispatches From The Women's Liberation Movement. Basic Books. pp. 213, 214–. ISBN 978-0-7867-3133-6. 
  6. ^"http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/wlm/blkmanif/". 
  7. ^ abcDonna Hightower-Langston (2002). A to Z of American Women Leaders and Activists. Infobase Publishing. pp. 165–166. ISBN 978-1-4381-0792-9. Retrieved March 16, 2012. 
  8. ^ ab"Newsweek Agrees to End Sex Discrimination Policy". Eugene Register-Guard, via Google News. Associated Press. August 28, 1970. 
  9. ^"Court Revokes Ban On Extremists' Rally". The Palm Beach Post, via Google News. Associated Press. November 20, 1968. 
  10. ^Rebecca Mae Salokar; Mary L. Volcansek (1996). Women in Law: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 205. ISBN 978-0-313-29410-5. Retrieved March 16, 2012. 
  11. ^Rebecca Mae Salokar; Mary L. Volcansek (1996). Women in Law: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 203–204. ISBN 978-0-313-29410-5. Retrieved March 16, 2012. 
  12. ^Sexual Harassment - Further Readings
  13. ^Pear, Robert (April 12, 1980). "New Rules Ban Sexual Harassment at Work". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, via Google News. New York TImes News Service. 
  14. ^Staff (1988). "Urban Institute Annual Report 1988"(PDF). Urban Institute. Retrieved March 16, 2012. 
  15. ^Kathryn Cullen-DuPont (August 1, 2000). Encyclopedia of women's history in America. Infobase Publishing. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-8160-4100-8. Retrieved February 4, 2012. 
  16. ^"Library Resource Finder: Table of Contents for: Sisterhood is forever : the women's anth". Vufind.carli.illinois.edu. Retrieved October 15, 2015. 
  17. ^Staff (2011). "2011 Foremothers & Health Policy Hero Awards. Foremothers Lifetime Achievement Awards". National Research Center for Women and Families. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved March 16, 2012. 
  18. ^http://norton.house.gov/
  19. ^"Hopeful Won't Quit Despite Tax Woes". The Pittsburgh Press, via Google News. September 10, 1990. 
  20. ^Abramowitz, Michael (September 12, 1990). "D.C. Delegate; Norton Overcomes Last-Minute Crisis to Win". The Washington Post. p. A21. Retrieved July 28, 2008. 
  21. ^ abMelton, R.H.; Abramowitz, Michael (September 25, 1990). "Second D.C. Candidate Didn't Pay Taxes; Shadow Seat Hopeful Says Failure to File Is a Protest for Statehood". The Washington Post. p. A01. Retrieved July 28, 2008. 
  22. ^ abDistrict of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics. "Historical Elected Officials: Delegate to the US House of Representatives". Archived from the original on July 16, 2008. Retrieved July 20, 2008. 
  23. ^Ayres Jr, B. Drummond (September 12, 1990). "Woman Nominated for Capital Mayor". The New York Times. 
  24. ^Keil, Richard (November 5, 1990). "Barry Loses Bid for City Council". Gettysburg Times, via Google News. Associated Press. 
  25. ^ abMember FAQ by Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives
  26. ^DC Vote - The Local Delegation: Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.)
  27. ^ ab"Norton Files Nuclear Disarmament Bill to Implement D.C. Ballot Initiative". March 19, 2009. 
  28. ^"Text of S.160 as Introduced in Senate District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2009". OpenCongress. Archived from the original on February 26, 2009. 
  29. ^Siegel, Hannah. "Dialing For Dollars: Democratic Rep. Asks Lobbyist For Campaign Cash In Voicemail". ABC News. Retrieved April 16, 2012. 
  30. ^"Take the Money and Run for Office". This American Life. PRI. Retrieved April 16, 2012. 
  31. ^ROBILLARD, KEVIN (May 17, 2012). "Norton refused testimony in anti-abortion hearing". Politico. Retrieved June 19, 2012. 
  32. ^"Norton Testimony Denied at D.C. Abortion Hearing". NBC4 Washington. May 17, 2012. 
  33. ^"They did it again: GOP refuses to hear Congresswoman's testimony on DC abortion bill". MSNBC. May 18, 2012. Archived from the original on May 21, 2012. Retrieved June 19, 2012. 
  34. ^Hess, Hannah. "Norton Vows to Defend D.C.'s Pot Legalization Initiative From Congress". www.rollcall.com. Roll Call. Retrieved August 7, 2014. 
  35. ^"Caucus Members". Congressional Progressive Caucus. Retrieved 30 January 2018. 
  36. ^"Membership". Congressional Black Caucus. Retrieved 7 March 2018. 
  37. ^"Members". House Baltic Caucus. Retrieved 21 February 2018. 
  38. ^Norton, Eleanor Holmes. "THE INTRODUCTION OF A BILL TO NAME THE U.S. COAST GUARD HEADQUARTERS -- (Extensions of Remarks - July 08, 2013)". Library of Congress. Retrieved July 15, 2013. 
  39. ^Debonis, Mike (July 8, 2013). "Search for D.C.'s next CFO takes shape". Washington Post. Retrieved November 19, 2013. 
  40. ^"H.R. 3343 - Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved November 18, 2013. 
  41. ^"CBO - H.R. 4185". Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved July 15, 2014. 
  42. ^"H.R. 4185 - Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved July 15, 2014. 
  43. ^"Norton Bill to Strengthen Local Justice Process in D.C. Passes House". Office of Eleanor Holmes Norton. Retrieved July 15, 2014. 
  44. ^"CBO - S. 994". Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved April 28, 2014. 
  45. ^Marcos, Cristina (April 28, 2014). "Federal transparency bill headed to White House". The Hill. Retrieved April 29, 2014. 
  46. ^Marcos, Cristina (April 28, 2014). "House votes to allow more DC penthouses". The Hill. Retrieved April 29, 2014. 
  47. ^The Colbert Report - 07/27/2006 - Better Know a District - District of Columbia - Eleanor Holmes Norton
  48. ^The Colbert Report: Indecision 2006 - Midterm Midtactular - 11/07/2006 - Robert Wexler and Eleanor Holmes Norton
  49. ^The Colbert Report - 03/22/2007 - Eleanor Holmes Norton
  50. ^The Colbert Report - 04/24/2007 - Eleanor Holmes Norton
  51. ^The Colbert Report - 02/12/2008 - Eleanor Holmes Norton
  52. ^The Colbert Report - 02/11/2009 - DC Voting Rights Act - Eleanor Holmes Norton
  53. ^Cohen, Matt. "Eleanor Holmes Norton Vs Stephen Colbert, Round Four". DCist.com. Gothamist. Archived from the original on November 9, 2014. Retrieved June 26, 2014. 
  54. ^Supreme Court Strikes Down DC Handgun Ban
  55. ^Josh Feldman. "Hannity Rips Into Eleanor Holmes Norton: You Didn't Read Ferguson Evidence?!". Mediaite. Retrieved December 5, 2014. 
  56. ^Eric Garland. "Hannity, Norton clash over Ferguson evidence". The Hill. Retrieved December 5, 2014. 
  57. ^http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/10/capital-games-behind-congress-attack-on-nfl-tax-breaks/
  58. ^https://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nfl-shutdown-corner/congress-looking-to-take-nfl-s-tax-break-away-if-it-doesn-t-change-redskins-name-222237825.html
  59. ^Bailey, Alyssa (20 October 2016). "The Stars of Good Girls Revolt on What 1960s Revolutionaries Can Teach Women Today". Elle. Hearst Communications, Inc.Retrieved 22 October 2016. 
  60. ^"The Women". 
  61. ^"The Film — She's Beautiful When She's Angry". Shesbeautifulwhenshesangry.com. Retrieved 2017-04-28.
Eleanor Holmes Norton as chair of the EEOC

The primary function of Congress, as the Legislative Branch of our government, is to create and modify laws. In addition, under the powers enumerated in the Constitution, Congress has authority over financial and budgetary policy by levying and collecting taxes, duties, imposts and excises, and, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States.

Here is the legislative process, from introduction to enactment into law:

Any member can introduce a piece of legislation.

Legislation is handed to the clerk of the House or placed in the hopper.

Members must gain recognition of the presiding officer to announce the introduction of a bill during the morning hour. If any senator objects, the introduction of the bill is postponed until the next day.

  •     The bill is assigned a number. (e.g. HR 1 or S 1)
  •     The bill is labeled with the sponsor's name.
  •     The bill is sent to the Government Printing Office (GPO) and copies are made.
  •     Senate bills can be jointly sponsored.
  •     Members can cosponsor the piece of Legislation.


The bill is referred to the appropriate committee by the Speaker of the House or the presiding officer in the Senate. Most often, the actual referral decision is made by the House or Senate parliamentarian. Bills may be referred to more than one committee and it may be split so that parts are sent to different committees. The Speaker of the House may set time limits on committees. Bills are placed on the calendar of the committee to which they have been assigned. Failure to act on a bill is equivalent to killing it. Bills in the House can only be released from committee without a proper committee vote by a discharge petition signed by a majority of the House membership (218 members).

Committee Steps:

  • Comments about the bill's merit are requested by government agencies.
  • Bill can be assigned to subcommittee by Chairman.
  • Hearings may be held.
  • Subcommittees report their findings to the full committee.
  • Finally there is a vote by the full committee - the bill is "ordered to be reported."
  • A committee will hold a "mark-up" session during which it will make revisions and additions. If substantial amendments are made, the committee can order the introduction of a "clean bill" which will include the proposed amendments. This new bill will have a new number and will be sent to the floor while the old bill is discarded. The chamber must approve, change or reject all committee amendments before conducting a final passage vote.
  • After the bill is reported, the committee staff prepares a written report explaining why they favor the bill and why they wish to see their amendments, if any, adopted. Committee members who oppose a bill sometimes write a dissenting opinion in the report. The report is sent back to the whole chamber and is placed on the calendar.
  • In the House, most bills go to the Rules committee before reaching the floor. The committee adopts rules that will govern the procedures under which the bill will be considered by the House. A "closed rule" sets strict time limits on debate and forbids the introduction of amendments. These rules can have a major impact on whether the bill passes. The rules committee can be bypassed in three ways: 1) members can move rules to be suspended (requires 2/3 vote)2) a discharge petition can be filed 3) the House can use a Calendar Wednesday procedure.


Legislation is placed on the Calendar:

  • House: Bills are placed on one of four House Calendars. They are usually placed on the calendars in the order of which they are reported yet they don't usually come to floor in this order - some bills never reach the floor at all. The Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader decide what will reach the floor and when. (Legislation can also be brought to the floor by a discharge petition.)
  • Senate: Legislation is placed on the Legislative Calendar. There is also an Executive calendar to deal with treaties and nominations. Scheduling of legislation is the job of the Majority Leader. Bills can be brought to the floor whenever a majority of the Senate chooses.


  • House: Debate is limited by the rules formulated in the Rules Committee. The Committee of the Whole debates and amends the bill but cannot technically pass it. Debate is guided by the Sponsoring Committee and time is divided equally between proponents and opponents. The Committee decides how much time to allot to each person. Amendments must be germane to the subject of a bill - no riders are allowed. The bill is reported back to the House (to itself) and is voted on. A quorum call is a vote to make sure that there are enough members present (218) to have a final vote. If there is not a quorum, the House will adjourn or will send the Sergeant at Arms out to round up missing members.
  • Senate: debate is unlimited unless cloture is invoked. Members can speak as long as they want and amendments need not be germane - riders are often offered. Entire bills can therefore be offered as amendments to other bills. Unless cloture is invoked, Senators can use a filibuster to defeat a measure by "talking it to death."


  • The bill is voted on. If passed, it is then sent to the other chamber unless that chamber already has a similar measure under consideration. If either chamber does not pass the bill then it dies. If the House and Senate pass the same bill then it is sent to the President. If the House and Senate pass different bills they are sent to Conference Committee. Most major legislation goes to a Conference Committee.


  • Members from each house form a conference committee and meet to work out the differences. The committee is usually made up of senior members who are appointed by the presiding officers of the committee that originally dealt with the bill. The representatives from each house work to maintain their version of the bill.
  • If the Conference Committee reaches a compromise, it prepares a written conference report, which is submitted to each chamber.
  • The conference report must be approved by both the House and the Senate.

The bill is sent to the President for review.

  • A bill becomes law if signed by the President or if not signed within 10 days and Congress is in session.
  • If Congress adjourns before the 10 days and the President has not signed the bill then it does not become law ("Pocket Veto.")
  • If the President vetoes the bill it is sent back to Congress with a note listing his/her reasons. The chamber that originated the legislation can attempt to override the veto by a vote of two-thirds of those present. If the veto of the bill is overridden in both chambers then it becomes law.

Once a bill is signed by the President or his veto is overridden by both houses it becomes a law and is assigned an official number.


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