D.C. delegate becomes emotional on floor over District abortion rights

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) became visibly emotional on the House floor Tuesday as she decried Republicans' plan to ban the use of all federal funds for abortion and count funding for the District of Columbia as "federal funds."

"Get out of our affairs," said Holmes while raising her voice. "You have enough to attend to here."

Washington, D.C., is a federal city, according to the Constitution. As such, a bill that is working its way through the Judiciary Committee that would ban the use of federal funds for abortion would cover D.C. monies. The measure is backed by Republican leadership.

But Norton argued in her speech that the use of funds that come from the residents of D.C. should be determined by the people, not the Congress.

"Don't cross the line between democracy and autocracy and dictate to a local jurisdiction how to spend its own local funds, which you had nothing to do with raising," said Norton.

Norton was replying in part to a hearing on the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act held by the House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution on Tuesday. Norton had petitioned the subcommittee to testify on behalf of the District, but her request was denied.

"Shame on the Judiciary subcommittee," said Norton on the House floor in response to her denial. "What are you afraid of?"

"Our new bill is designed to permanently end any U.S. government financial support for abortion whether it be direct funding or by tax credits or any other subsidy," Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) said as he explained the bill last month.