Dare to Give Washington a Vote
It’s time to end the embarrassing servitude of Washington, D.C., which is denied true democratic representation. The city of 550,000 taxpaying Americans currently elects a member to the House of Representatives who is allowed to debate each and every issue, yet is denied the right to vote on the fate of any of them. The House has approved a bill that would give the D.C. shadow delegate voting power, and it now faces a make-or-break decision in the Senate.
The bill — the product of classic political horse trading — would enlarge the House by two seats: one for D.C., a likely Democratic representative, the other for Utah, whose population growth justifies a seat that probably would go to the Republicans. Opponents continue to raise constitutional issues about the district’s not being a full-fledged state; proponents offer counterarguments about Congress’s long history of dominating, even dictating, the city’s precise political freedoms. This will likely end up in the courts, but what could be closer to the ideals of America’s democracy than giving D.C. taxpayers their long-denied representation?
The Senate will vote today on whether to clear the measure for debate by invoking cloture to block a filibuster by opponents. A minimum of 60 votes is required, and it would be a grim echo of segregationist history if the Senate denied this opportunity to advance the district’s voting rights. No less relevant is the current history of the Iraq war waged in the name of promoting democracy overseas. President Bush has threatened a veto of the measure, so a 60-plus vote would be a potent signal that Congress is determined to promote American ideals in America’s own front yard.
but then this....
A bill that would have given District of Columbia residents their first-ever member of Congress died in the Senate on Tuesday, dashing hopes of finally gaining full voting rights after a 206-year wait.
Senators voted 57-42, just three votes short of the 60 needed to move the measure forward. The bill would have created two new House seats: One for the city of about 600,000 people and one for Utah, which narrowly missed out on a fourth seat after the last census.