Campus Notebook: One More Try

Posted July 15, 2008 at 6:52pm

D.C. activists are still three Senate votes away from passing a bill that would give the District a voting Representative in Congress.

[IMGCAP(1)]But they are nonetheless hoping to get the voting rights bill on the Senate floor.

It’s a slight switch in message for DC Vote, the city’s main voting rights group. Until now, officials have stressed their optimism in getting the bill passed.

But at a news conference Tuesday, the emphasis was on simply getting it to the Senate floor before the end of the 110th Congress — with or without the needed votes.

DC Vote, along with 36 national and local groups, sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), asking that he schedule a vote for the DC House Voting Rights Act. In September, the bill stalled in the Senate because it received only 57 votes, not the 60 needed to block a filibuster.

Voting on the measure “will provide another opportunity for citizens around the country to engage in a dialogue with their Senators about the DC House Voting Rights Act,” the July 15 letter reads.

“We are hopeful that a group of Senators will decide to vote ‘yes’ on cloture as a result of that dialogue,” it continues. “At the very least, another vote in the Senate will provide a greater opportunity for media coverage of the hypocrisy of those Senators who support extending democracy around the world while refusing to bring democracy home to our nation’s capital.”

The bill would give D.C. a full House seat, replacing the nonvoting delegate seat held by Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) that exists today. To counteract the presumably Democratic seat, the bill would also give a seat to the largely Republican Utah, which is due for one after the 2010 census.

The plan got farther than any other voting rights bill before it, passing the House before stalling in the Senate. And now DC Vote is more active then ever, traveling nationwide to gain support.

The D.C. Council has made the issue a priority as well, helping to fund DC Vote and doing some of its own advertising.

On Tuesday, Council Chairman Vincent Gray (D) announced a plan to put electronic boards near the Nationals stadium and City Hall; the pro-voting rights boards would outline how much D.C. residents pay in federal taxes.

Smoking Republicans. A small kitchen fire at the Capitol Hill Club created a big scene Tuesday morning, when smoke filled the third and fourth floors of the private Republican club.

Capitol Police blocked off First and C streets Southeast while the building was evacuated, according to police and fire officials. No one was injured, D.C. Fire Department spokesman Alan Etter said.

The fire began after plastic racks from a dishwasher were apparently placed on a stove, Etter said. The burning plastic produced a great deal of smoke, but Etter called the damage mostly “superficial.” People were let back into the building at about 12:45 p.m., he said.

Open Source. The National Archives and Records Administration recently announced it will make some of its important documents available on the Internet.

NARA has joined the World Digital Library, a project that aims to put on the Internet — in one place — “significant primary materials from countries and cultures around the world.”

The Archives expects to contribute documents such as the Declaration of Independence, photographs from the Civil War and immigration records of famous Americans, among other things.

The Library of Congress helped launch the World Digital Library in 2005, and, along the way, it has made partnerships with cultural institutions around the world. It’s one of the agency’s many initiatives to broaden the Web availability of the Library’s collection.

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