Arizona Republican denies D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton the right to speak
Mayor Gray and Representative Norton in the back of the Republican-controlled bus
Rep. Trent Franks’s district in suburban Phoenix is two time zones away from Washington, a fact not lost on D.C. leaders as the Arizona Republican presided Thursday over the latest in a long series of attempts to control social issues in the nation’s capital.
At issue this time was his bill, with 193 co-sponsors, to ban all abortions in the District beyond 20 weeks, except to save the life of the mother.
Adding insult to injury, from the point of view of local officials, was that Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), the District’s lone, nonvoting member of Congress — sitting in the front row of a subcommittee hearing room — was not allowed to speak.
Presiding over the hearing, Franks, who frequently cites the U.S. Constitution, said Congress has the authority to “exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever” in the District…Rep. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), the subcommittee’s ranking Democrat, called the measure another attack on women’s rights and criticized Republicans for not allowing Norton to testify. “Never in my 20 years as a member of Congress have I seen a colleague treated so contemptuously,” Nadler said.
Norton, who was also not allowed to speak on an abortion measure last year, called it “the denial of a common courtesy” to a fellow member…
On Thursday, Republicans and Democrats bickered over procedure after Norton’s request to testify was rejected. Franks offered to have her sit on the dais with other House members, though without permission to speak or ask questions. Norton declined…
At a news conference, Norton said Franks’s measure made her feel “disgust and anger,” because “the reach of this bill goes well beyond anything we have experienced…”
D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) remarked sarcastically that if Franks feels strongly about how the city is run, “I would invite him to become a candidate for D.C. Council…”
Norton and other District leaders have clashed repeatedly with Hill Republicans over abortion, particularly over the policy that prevents the city from spending its own money to pay for abortions for low-income women…
It is unclear when the House bill might come up for a vote before the full Judiciary Committee or on the House floor, and the Democratic-controlled Senate is unlikely to pass it.
Arizona is called the “Mississippi of the West” for good reason. The politics of many elected officials are as barbaric, reactionary, racist and bigoted as their twins in the eastern half of the country.
Arizona politicians spend about as much time as the Mississippi flavor answering to God in their testimony. Apparently having the only other direct pipeline to heaven this side of Benjamin Netanyahu.
Perish the thought legislation might be moved through the cesspool that Republican Congressional politics has become – on the basis of human rights, constitutional freedoms or that quality wholly submerged in rightwing blather — individual liberty and the right to make your own decisions. Especially on birth control and abortion.