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Congresswoman Norton Set to Introduce Bill to Require Federal Agencies to Advertise with Black Press

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent@StacyBrownMedia

Legendary and longtime D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton is hoping to accomplish what may not have been possible during the last Congress.

Norton, who is in her 28th year in Congress, plans to reintroduce H.R. 7215 which would require all government agencies to report on expenditures for contracts for advertisement and other purposes.

Her spokesman Benjamin Fritsch said this week that Norton would roll out the resolution soon.

She first introduced it last fall and it was referred to the House Committee on Budget but the 115th Congress then went into recess.

The new Democratic-controlled 116th Congress should afford Norton the opportunity to push through her resolution and perhaps gain a voting-member’s support to enact legislation.

Because she’s a D.C. delegate, Norton doesn’t enjoy full voting rights and isn’t permitted to vote on final legislation.

Still, her impact on Congress has resonated for nearly three decades and, at a 2016 Black Press Week event, Norton stood with leaders of the National Newspaper Publishers Association and the National Association of Hispanic Publications to call for a federal report on advertising spending by government agencies with minority-owned media.

Because of her relentless pursuit, Norton was able to obtain a new Government Accountability Office report that concluded that, of the $5 billion spent on advertising by federal agencies over the past decade, just $50 million went to Black-owned businesses.

The report didn’t detail how much of the $50 million went to Black newspaper owners, only that they were included among all Black businesses.

After the report’s release in July, the NNPA called on Congressman Cedric Richmond, the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to “forcefully raise their voices of discontent and reaffirmation of the demands for equity, justice and fairness and end to this kind of systemic refusal to treat African American-owned and Latino-owned businesses along with others in a just, fair and equitable manner.”

Norton said her bill would specifically require federal agencies to include in their annual budget requests to Congress the amount they spent in the most recent fiscal year on advertising contracts with newspapers and media companies owned by minorities and women, as well as projections of such spending for the upcoming fiscal year.

The Congresswoman also sent letters to all 12 appropriations subcommittees, requesting that they require each agency under their jurisdiction to include this advertising data in their budget requests.

“The federal government is the largest advertiser in the United States, and it has an obligation to ensure fair access to its contracts for minority and women-owned newspapers and media companies,” Norton said.

“My bill would provide the transparency to ensure federal agencies are striving to reach minorities, who often get their daily news from smaller media outlets who serve communities of color.”

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