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POLITICS: PennAve

Eleanor Holmes Norton to TSA: D.C. residents are U.S. citizens

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Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton wants the Transportation Security Administration to be sure it knows the District of Columbia is part of the Untied States and its residents are American citizens.

That basic civics lesson from the District's non-voting member of Congress followed an incident last week in which D.C. resident Ashley Brandt was temporarily barred from boarding a flight in Phoenix when a TSA agent wrongfully believed her D.C.-issued drivers license was an invalid form of identification.

In a letter Thursday to TSA Administrator John Pistole, Holmes Norton called the incident "bizarre and ludicrous" and said it "reflects poorly on the management of TSA."

"While D.C. residents are undemocratically denied voting representation in the House and Senate and full control over their local laws and budget, our residents are American citizens who have all the other rights of citizens, including using D.C.-issued identification to travel by airplane," she wrote.

"The undemocratic treatment of D.C. residents by Congress should never extend to similar treatment by federal employees."

Brandt, a preschool teacher in the District, eventually was allowed to board her flight. Holmes Norton later called her to apologize that "a U.S. government employee would question the right of a resident of the nation’s capital to board an airplane."

Since the incident, the Democratic congresswoman said she has learned that American citizens of the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands have encountered "similar indignities."

"I request that you take steps to ensure that all TSA employees are informed now and in their training that identification documents issued by the District of Columbia and the territories must be treated the same as state-issued identification, and to remind them that D.C. residents and the residents of the territories are American citizens and deserve to be treated as such," Holmes Norton wrote.

Meanwhile Thursday, Holmes Norton introduced a bill to require the Library of Congress to install a stained-glass window depicting the District seal in the Main Reading Room of its Thomas Jefferson Building. The reading room currently displays stained-glass windows featuring the seals of all states and U.S. territories that existed when the building opened in 1897.

The only unrepresented states from the stained-glass display are Hawaii and Alaska, which weren't states or territories when the building was constructed. "The fact that these two states were not part of the union at the time of the creation of the stained-glass windows argues for a depiction of the District seal as well, which, after all, was in fact the nation's capital at the time," the legislation says.

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Author:

Sean Lengell

Congressional Correspondent
The Washington Examiner