D.C. Voting Rights May Be Considered Next Week

Posted April 15, 2010 at 7:48am

A bill that aims to give voting rights to Washington, D.C., residents may be considered on the House floor as early as next week.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) says he expects the bill to include some version of the controversial gun language that was attached to it last year, the Washington Post reports.

Voting rights legislation was poised to pass both chambers last year. The bill passed the Senate in early 2009 by a 61-37 vote before falling in the House in May because of an amendment that would strip many of the District’s gun laws.

The National Rifle Association supported the amendment and applied pressure to many conservative Democrats, persuading them to vote in support the amendment. On the amendment’s passage, city officials expressed outrage and anger over the idea of Congressionally mandated gun laws.

The proposed legislation will give D.C. a voting Member of the House, while also giving a temporary seat to the conservative-leaning Utah. The results of the 2010 Census would determine which state would get Utah’s temporary seat permanently.

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) has long championed voting rights and tried to get the bill brought to the floor in February, but a series of snowstorms and a scheduled Presidents Day recess prevented that from happening.

The health care debate took up much of the 2010 legislative calendar, once again pushing the bill to the back burner. Now that health care has passed both chambers, Norton says there is no time like the present to give Washingtonians a voting Representative in Congress.

“We have spent years getting what should have been an easy bill done considering its bi-partisan equivalence with a seat for D.C. and for Utah,” Norton said in a release. “As the April 15 income tax deadline comes hard upon us, D.C. residents are more determined than ever to get congressional representation, the least they are entitled to for the taxes they pay.”