House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced Thursday night that he plans to bring a bill to provide the District of Columbia with full representation in the House to the floor next week, calling the push for voting rights “long overdue.”
“I intend to bring the DC Voting Rights Act to the House Floor for a vote next week,” Hoyer said in a statement. “Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) and DC voting rights supporters have strongly expressed to me that now is the time to end the injustice denying Americans living in our nation’s capital full voting representation in Congress.
Hoyer’s announcement comes on the same day that a key Senate sponsor of the voting rights bill, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), threatened to filibuster the measure if the House passes it.
Last year, the Senate, with Hatch’s approval, voted 61-37 to support voting rights in the district. With the expectation that D.C. would elect a Democrat to Congress, the bill gave a fourth House district to conservative Utah, which fell just short of gaining a House seat after the 2000 Census.
The bill was expected to sail through the House until Senators attached language to repeal D.C.’s gun control laws. The bill has been in limbo ever since.
Hatch said Thursday he now objects to the bill because the fourth Congressional seat for Utah would be an at-large seat, meaning voters statewide would elect a new Member. Hatch said he was uncomfortable with the idea that one of the state’s House Members would represent a district with three times as many voters as the state’s other three districts.