The US House of Representatives passed the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2007 last week in a 241-177 vote. The bill would officially make the District of Columbia -- which is solidly liberal -- a congressional district with full voting rights in the House. In an effort to gain bipartisan support, the bill would not only give a seat to the District, but would also give an at-large seat to the Republican state of Utah.
The District currently has a delegate in the House of Representatives, Eleanor Homes Norton (D), whose voting privileges are limited and who is never allowed to vote on the final passage of a bill, despite the fact that District resident pay federal taxes, unlike other US territories that do not have voting members in Congress. Because of this, DC residents are commonly seen with the popular license plate, "Taxation without representation."
"The United States is the only representative democracy that does not afford the citizens of its capital voting representation – making this not only a national disgrace, but an international embarrassment," said House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD).
The bill now heads to the Senate, where supporters fear it will not pass, The Jurist reports. Additionally, President Bush has threatened to veto the bill if it reaches him, calling it unconstitutional.
Media Resources: Jurist Legal News and Research 4/20/07; People for the American Way Press Release 4/19/07; Reuters 4/19/07; New York Times 4/19/07