DC delegate, mayor to protest budget riders on abortion, vouchers

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and Washington Mayor Vincent Gray will join a protest Monday on Capitol Hill to urge lawmakers to scrap from the budget compromise riders on D.C. abortion rights and a school voucher program.

Organized by the voting-rights group DC Vote, the rally aims to send a message to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and President Obama: Don’t “sacrifice” the rights of D.C. residents to get a deal on the budget.

“Clearly, both our opponents and friends think D.C. is weak,” the group said in a statement Monday. “Neither thinks we are strong enough to fight back against oppression.”

“We may not have legislative power, but we have the power of the people, and D.C. residents refuse to be treated like second-class citizens,” it added. “D.C. is not weak. Tonight, we are going to fight back.”

Norton publicly chastised Republicans recently for pushing for a policy rider that would stop local taxpayer funds from paying for abortions in the District. A second rider would revive a voucher program, pushed by Boehner, that Gray has said is being “foisted” on the District.

“District residents are being treated as colonists of the Congress of the United States. We are absolutely outraged. This is the functional equivalent of bombing innocent civilians,” Holmes Norton told WTTG-TV Thursday. "It’s time that the District of Columbia told the Congress to go straight to hell.”
Planned for 5 p.m. outside the Senate Hart office building, the protest is also slated to attract supporters from The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and DC for Obama, among others.

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