Bills Passed by Lawmaker Who Can’t Vote: Only in Washington, D.C.

Photograph by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Washington, DC Mayor Vincent Gray, right, with Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) after a news conference with members of the D.C. Council ‘to call on the Senate and the administration to free D.C.’s local budget during the federal government shutdown’ on Oct. 9, 2013 on Capitol Hill.

Written with BGov’s Loren Duggan

One of the members of Congress who wrote the most laws last year is a member of the House minority who doesn’t even get to vote.

Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton, the non-voting delegate from the District of Columbia, got three of her bills to President Barack Obama’s desk last year, making her responsible for 4 percent of the output of Congress in 2013.

Norton’s success stems in part from Washington’s unusual governance structure. Congress has constitutional authority over the local government, and the sort of changes that other cities can make on their own or negotiate with their states sometimes have to go through the U.S. House and Senate.

Norton’s laws established rules for what happens if Washington’s chief financial officer post is vacant, capped the CFO’s compensation and named a Coast Guard building after Douglas Munro, the Coast Guard’s only Medal of Honor recipient.

Norton was tied with two House Republicans, Mike Coffman of Colorado and Hal Rogers of Kentucky.

Coffman wrote two laws extending veterans’ programs and another that made sure members of the military were paid during the partial government shutdown.

Rogers, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, was the lead author of three bills that funded the government.

The most prolific senators?

Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Republican Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who each got two of their bills signed into law.

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