Loose Lips

Where’s Eleanor?

U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican who heads the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, made local news this week by introducing legislation that would grant the District budget autonomy (except on abortion spending).

It’s not every day that Republicans suggest ceding some power to the District, and Issa’s proposal is, despite the abortion restriction, a step toward Mayor Vince Gray’s goal of taking more local control from Congress.

(On Wednesday, Gray, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, and Council Chairman Kwame "Fully Loaded" Brown rejected Issa’s proposal.)

Issa indicated in May that he wanted to give the District some more say over its own finances, so this week’s proposal wasn’t a total surprise. Still, it looks like he was nudged along by some private lobbying on Gray’s part.

Emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request show that Gray met with Issa and Rep. Jo-Ann Emerson, a Missouri Republican who heads the committee that writes the federal spending bill that includes the city’s budget, in recent weeks. The meetings were set up by Tom Davis, a long-time District ally and former Republican House member from northern Virginia.

Gray and the lawmakers discussed District budget autonomy, says Gray’s chief of staff, Chris Murphy. Murphy says Davis, who now works at Deloitte, offered to act as a go-between for the mayor and the Republicans as a free favor, and the city took him up on the offer rather than paying to hire a lobbyist. (Every penny counts!)

Murphy declined to say why the meetings weren’t published on the mayor’s schedule. But what’s more curious is why the District’s lone elected representative on Capitol Hill, Norton, wasn’t at the meetings. One might think that Norton, a Democrat who has been the D.C. delegate for 20 years, might at least be present for meetings taking place on her turf.

But the emails appear to indicate that Norton wasn’t even invited. Her spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

LL won’t try and make too much out of Norton’s absence. But still, if the mayor didn’t think Norton needed to sit in on meetings with her influential colleagues, what does that say about Norton’s relevance?

Photo by Mike Madden

  • @SamuelMoore

    I don't think Delegate Norton has many friends on the Hill, on either side of the aisle...

  • Tom

    I dont understand why they would reject this. Budget autonmy is far more important than city funded abortions. They should know a perfect deal will never come along and this is a pivotal first step to true independance. Besides, if dems ever take control again we can just overturn the ban. These guys are fools, how long has it been since the statehood convention, 20 years? Yet at a first step they play hardliner???

  • Barbin

    Why does Congressman Issa make war against women? Alternatively, when will there be initiated a reproductive rights war against men? How about Congressman Issa proposing sterlization for men who are fathers in unintended pregnancies, since those pregancies are the ones that require many services taxpayers pay for?

  • goldfish

    EHN -- "never misses and opportunity to miss an opportunity" (1973 quote about the Arabs by Abba Eban, Israeli diplomat).

  • Tom

    Im not even on Issa's side here, but how is this a war against women? This isn't outlawing abortion only the use of local funds to pay for abortions. So I dont see the where all the outrage is coming from. Here's the thing people don't seem to get, we are looking at a Republican congress in the future so this may happen anyway (just like it did when Obama sold us out to Boehner). IMHO, if your going to get screwed, you might as well get something out of it.

  • Artful Dodger

    Eleanor Holmes Norton (aka The Screaming Pariah) is never invited. Publically telling Congress to "Go Straight to Hell" is not an effective negotiation technique.

    As a district resident, I am very relieved that they rejected the offer of additional autonomy. The Norton, Gray, Brown, Goof Troop cannot effectively (or honestly) manage the district and we need the federal oversight to minimize self inflicted damage.

  • Southeast Ken

    Poor women should keep their legs closed by not having sex. If they can't afford to have a child, then don't have sex. Taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for abortions for poor women. These woman shouldn't be having sex plain and simple.

  • Barbin

    Okay, Ken. I hope you like paying taxes to provide all the public services many unintended children/families receive. Oh, and men have no responsibilities in producing such children? You have a poor idea of what responsibility is.

  • Tom

    @Barbin, You keep mentioning paying for the "unintended children", but the city hasnt even paid for many abortions since the programs inception!!!! Crucial services that may be stopped because of a government shutdown is far more important than a program with an unproven track record

  • Lexus

    Southeast Ken is hateful. He's also irrational to the point that he hates just about everyone. Unemployed and an angry black man who can't get a job.

  • EnoughAlready

    Truth tellers usually get stoned. Southeast Ken has a point. I'm amazed at how many people have children they can't afford. It's not my responsibility as a taxpayer to support people who can't do math.

  • Brahmin

    I think although nice to invite her, I do not see it as a major faux pas on the Gray administration. Mayor Williams employed not one, but five lobbying firms to make sure we had good relations with Congress and this is even when Dems had both houses.

    You can act, together but there is not wrong with a self starter.