Hoyer: D.C. Voting Act Won’t Hit Floor This Week

Posted March 3, 2009 at 6:15pm

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday that the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act will not come to the floor this week, as originally expected.

“Clearly we don’t yet have an agreement— on the bill, Hoyer said.

The Rules Committee had scheduled a meeting on the bill Tuesday. But it was canceled because of the threat of a Republican-offered amendment that would strike most of the city’s gun safety laws. It is unclear when the bill will hit the House floor.

The amendment handily won approval in the Senate last week, and Senators passed the bill with a vote of 61-37. The gun provision, offered by Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), is popular in both chambers, and a bill nearly identical to the amendment easily passed the House last year.

But Democratic leaders worry that if a similar amendment is offered and accepted in the House, the voting rights act itself won’t get enough votes to pass, according to a leadership aide. Passing a rule to bar such amendments could also jeopardize the bill, if the move alienates centrist Democrats.

In a press release Tuesday, D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes (D) Norton said she was “relieved— the Rules meeting was postponed.

The move “spare[d] me from having to formally request that it be pulled from the House floor, had it proceeded so quickly that these gun amendments had somehow been possible,— she said.

Staff writer Tory Newmyer contributed to this report.