D.C. Residents Lobby for Vote on the Hill

Posted April 16, 2010 at 10:15am

Washingtonians stormed the Hill this morning demanding the passage of the D.C. Voting Rights Act, which is scheduled to hit the House floor late next week.

125 District residents, led by the nonprofit group DC Vote and outfitted in “No Taxation Without Representation” shirts, gathered in the Capitol Visitor Center early this morning. After speeches from DC Vote Executive Director Ilir Zherka, D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) and D.C. Councilmember Yvette Alexander, the advocates fanned out on the Hill where to meet with various Congressional staffers.

“You’re the warriors on the Hill,” Norton told the crowd. “The day of reckoning has come.”

The event comes on the heels of an announcement by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) that legislation that would give the District a voting Representative in Congress will be considered on the House floor next week. The bill, which passed the Senate last year before falling in the House when a controversial gun amendment was attached, will give one seat to D.C. and another to the Republican-leaning Utah.

Norton, who has long championed D.C. voting rights, says she is prepared to accept a bill with language that would pare down the city’s gun laws despite the fact that several city councilmembers have spoken out against such an amendment.

“There are ways to get our gun laws back; there are no ways to get our voting rights back,” she said. “It would be foolish not to seize the vote at hand.”

The event is being held in honor of Emancipation Day, a holiday in the District that recognizes the day that Abraham Lincoln emancipated enslaved D.C. residents in 1862.

“We are not fully emancipated,” Zherka told the CVC crowd. “We need to get the rights and privileges that all other Americans have.”