Norton Reintroduces Voting Rights for D.C.

Posted January 6, 2009 at 9:57am

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) reintroduced on Tuesday the D.C. Voting Rights Act, which would give the city a voting seat in the House.

The bill passed the House in the 110th Congress but stalled in the Senate, after coming three votes short of blocking a filibuster. After the November elections, Norton pledged to introduce the bill again, claiming that a beefed-up Democratic majority would see it easily pass both chambers this year.

Sens. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) partnered with Norton to introduce the bill. Just like the 2007 version, this year’s bill would give an additional House seat to Utah, which narrowly missed getting another seat after the 2000 Census and reapportionment process.

“We know from national polls that our bill has broad bi-partisan support from the American people, and we have every reason to believe that we will have the support this year of both houses of Congress and the new president,” Norton said in a statement. “The residents of the District of Columbia could not be more fortunate that Sen. Lieberman and Sen. Hatch, our partners in the Senate, whose outstanding and dedicated leadership efforts almost prevailed last session, have continued to work closely with us.”

In recent weeks, Norton has claimed that a Senate with 58 Democrats (and possibly 59, if comedian Al Franken is seated from Minnesota) ensures that the bill will get the 60 votes needed to block a filibuster. In 2007, the bill passed the House 241-177, making passage in that chamber likely.

Furthermore, President-elect Barack Obama was a Senate co-sponsor of the bill, and, unlike President George W. Bush, is likely to sign the bill into law. But the Voting Rights Act still has the opposition of many Republicans, who claim that giving a voting seat to D.C. is unconstitutional.