Tuesday, September 18, 2007

senate republicans deny dc voting rights

Only eight Republicans supported a measure in the Senate today that would have allowed the District of Columbia a representative in Congress, according to the Washington Post.

The legislation would have allotted a voting member of the House to D.C. while also creating a new district in Utah. The Senate needed 60 votes to consider the bill; it fell short with only 57.
The vote was a crushing disappointment to many activists in the decades-long campaign for voting representation for the city in Congress. The bill, which passed the House of Representatives in April, has gone further than any other D.C. vote measure in nearly 30 years.
Currently, D.C. has a non-voting delegate in Congress, Eleanor Holmes Norton. Norton is a Democrat and would likely be elected to the post if a voting spot was created for the District. Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, R-Va., suggested that if D.C. was going to elect a Democrat, a growing area in Utah should be allowed to create a district that would likely vote Republican.

Despite this compromise, the majority of Senate Republicans were opposed to the measure.

The Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the White House have strongly criticized the legislation. They maintain it violates the Constitutional mandate that House representatives be chosen by the "People of the several States," since the District is not a state.

"I opposed this bill because it is clearly and unambiguously unconstitutional," McConnell said in a statement. "If the residents of the District are to get a member for themselves, they have a remedy: amend the Constitution."

In addition to the legal concerns, some Republicans were wary of the bill's potential political repercussions. Some Republicans feared the measure could eventually lead to two full D.C. senators, who would likely be Democrats.

Good thing Republicans play politics when the most fundamental of rights in America's representative democracy is being denied in the nation's capital.

Supporters vow not to end the fight. It's one that's been brewing for years, with a previous constitutional amendment that passed Congress, but failed to be ratified by the states.

"We have not given up. The session is not over," Norton said. "We have come too far to stop now."

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