Chairman Nadler Statement for the Markup of H.R. 3283, Amending Title 4
Washington, February 12, 2020
Washington, D.C. –Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following opening remarks, as prepared, during the markup of H.R. 3283, to amend title 4, United States Code, to permit the flag of the United States to be flown at half-staff in the event of the death of the Mayor of the District of Columbia:
"Currently under that statute, the President can order the U.S. flag to be flown at half-staff upon the deaths of principal figures of the U.S. government and governors of States, territories, and possessions, as a mark of respect. This legislation would simply amend the statute to allow the President to grant the Mayor of the District of Columbia that same honor.
"H.R. 3283 is a straightforward measure that makes the treatment of the D.C. Mayor consistent with how the rest of the statute already treats the Mayor. For example, the governor of a State, territory, or possession and the Mayor of the District Columbia are all provided the same authority to proclaim that the U.S. flag be flown at half-staff upon the death of a present or former official of their respective governments, a member of the Armed Forces from their respective jurisdictions who dies while serving on active duty, and the death of a first responder who dies while serving in the line of duty while working in their respective jurisdictions.
"Amending Title 4 to give the Mayor of the District of Columbia equal dignity with governors and other high public officials is also consistent with the fact that the Mayor governs a city with a unique constitutional status. Unlike almost every other U.S. city, D.C’s residents—who all pay federal taxes—are not provided equal representation before the federal government.
"In that respect, the Mayor of the District of Columbia is akin to the governor of a U.S. territory or possession, who would be entitled to have the flag flown at half-staff upon his or her death. At the very least, the Mayor, as the head of D.C.’s elected government, should be provided honors to those accorded a territorial governor.
"Regardless of whether you favor D.C. statehood—and I do, very strongly—this legislation takes absolutely no position on that question and it should be supported on its own merits. It merely harmonizes this particular section of the code with the rest of its statute, putting the D.C. Mayor on par with the governor of a State, territory, or possession.
"As such, I urge all of my colleagues to support this legislation."