The Washington Post

Why did Eleanor Holmes Norton skip Monday’s budget deal protest?

As District Mayor Vincent Gray and several members of the city council were being led away in handcuffs Monday night by U.S. Capitol Police, one local leader was notably absent.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), the District’s lone official voice in Congress, was not present at the rally to protest the spending deal cut by President Obama and Hill leaders. She missed the event even though she has been perhaps the most outspoken city official in complaining about the agreement, which bans the District from spending its own money to provide abortions to low-income women and revives the city’s private school voucher program, which Norton strongly opposes.

Given that Norton is normally a fixture at such events, why did she miss the rally Monday night?

Around 6:30 p.m. Monday -- as the mayor and council members were sitting in the middle of Constitution Avenue, blocking traffic – Norton’s official Twitter feed said this: “Tied up. Trying 2 get 2 the @DC_Vote rally. R u at 2nd & Constitution yet?”

But several hours later, around 1 a.m. Tuesday, Norton’s office issued a lengthy news release praising the protesters and explaining that she “decided not to attend Monday’s rally so that members of Congress could see that it was entirely a ‘people’s rally,’ not an action that had or needed her leadership.”

So which was it – did she deliberately skip the rally, or was she “tied up” and “trying 2 get” there?

On Tuesday, her office explained the discrepancy: Her staff had used her Twitter feed to say that she was going to the rally because they assumed she was, but she had actually already decided not to go because she didn’t want it to look like the demonstration – which was organized by the advocacy group DC Vote – had been spearheaded by her.

Norton plans to go to the House floor Tuesday during the noon hour to praise the protesters.


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