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Voter Support

Leading into committee markups set to begin today, 20 former government officials have sent a bipartisan letter to Members of Congress asking for passage of a bill that would grant Washington, D.C., full House voting rights. [IMGCAP(1)]

The signers, who include former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and former Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.), ask Members to support the compromise measure, scheduled for a markup in the Oversight and Government Reform Committee today and in the Judiciary Committee later in the week. The legislation also would grant largely Republican Utah an at-large seat to balance the heavily Democratic District.

“Citizens living in Washington, DC pay federal taxes, serve on juries, and send their family members to protect our nation during times of war. They should no longer be denied the very essence of our democratic ideals,” the letter reads.

Access for Auditors. Twenty-two Democratic Senators led by Sen. Tom Harkin (Iowa) sent a letter to the State Department on Monday expressing concern over reports that Government Accountability Office auditors have been impeded in their efforts to obtain clearance to work out of offices in Baghdad on a long-term basis.

Although the Defense and State departments have facilitated shorter-term visits to Baghdad in the past, “GAO’s longer term presence in Baghdad is essential to providing Congress with direct and continuing oversight over U.S. programs and activities,” the letter states.

GAO has requested clearance for three auditors to be allowed on a rotating basis to spend up to six months in Baghdad, but while the Pentagon has approved the request, the State Department has not.

Comptroller General David Walker is expected to address funding needs for GAO overseas projects when he appears before Senate appropriators on Friday.

— Elizabeth Brotherton and John McArdle

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