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Bill Would Give D.C. Vote, Utah Extra Seat

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060512/ap_on_el_ge/dc_vote_3 Bill Would Give D.C. Vote, Utah Extra Seat By JIM ABRAMS, Associated Press Writer Fri May 12, 12:43
    Message 1 of 1 , May 12, 2006
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      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060512/ap_on_el_ge/dc_vote_3

      Bill Would Give D.C. Vote, Utah Extra Seat

      By JIM ABRAMS, Associated Press Writer Fri May 12,
      12:43 AM ET

      WASHINGTON - Two centuries after lawmakers arrived in
      the federal city and nearly a hundred years after the
      last expansion of Congress, a bipartisan group of
      House members says it's time to give residents of the
      nation's capital a vote there.

      The legislation crafted by Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., and
      the District of Columbia's nonvoting delegate,
      Democrat Eleanor Holmes, balances the proposed
      addition of what would be a solidly Democratic D.C.
      seat with a new seat for Utah, a state that voted 71
      percent for President Bush in 2004.

      "It is simply inexcusable that residents of the
      District of Columbia, the capital of the free world
      ... do not have a representative with a vote on the
      floor of the House of Representatives, the People's
      House," Davis said at a news conference Thursday.

      Davis said his House Government Reform Committee would
      vote on the measure soon, and that Judiciary Committee
      Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., would take up
      the issue. Davis and Norton have been promoting the
      D.C. vote issue for years, but this would be the first
      committee vote.

      House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said
      Thursday he knew the issue was important to both
      Washington and Utah. "I'm in a wait-and-see mode.
      Let's see what the committees can do and we'll talk
      about it," he said.

      Ilir Zherka, executive director of the nonprofit
      advocacy group D.C. Vote, said the Davis-Norton bill
      was "the closest we have ever been to voting
      representation in Congress, and D.C. residents should
      be shouting from the rooftops and engaging friends
      across the country to make this critical bill a law."

      The House has had 435 representatives since 1913,
      except for a brief period between 1959 and 1963 when
      the number was 437 after Hawaii and Alaska became
      states. A 1929 law made the 435 figure permanent.

      Congress in 1801, shortly after moving to Washington,
      took away the voting rights of D.C. residents, who
      until then had voted for Virginia or Maryland
      lawmakers. The 23rd Amendment, ratified in 1961, gave
      D.C. residents the right to vote in presidential
      elections, and the city of 537,000 has been allowed to
      elect its own leaders since 1973.

      Norton, who can cast votes in committees and
      participate in House floor debate but can't vote on
      the floor, said her ultimate goal is to achieve voting
      rights in both the House and the Senate, but
      acknowledges she doesn't have enough support for that
      now.

      "My 16 years in Congress has been defined by the
      search for some way to get full representation for the
      city where my family has lived since before the Civil
      War," she said.

      Utah, which just missed getting an extra House seat
      after the 2000 census, currently has three House seats
      held by two Republicans and one Democrat. To avoid an
      immediate shift in this balance, the fourth seat under
      the Davis-Norton bill would be at-large, representing
      the entire state, until the 2012 election. Davis'
      office said this was a common procedure in the 19th
      century, when the House expanded as the nation's
      population grew.

      Rep. Chris Cannon (news, bio, voting record), R-Utah,
      said he would support the bill. "I will do what I can
      to make sure this legislation sees quick action so
      that Utah can get the at-large seat that we deserve."

      "I have been to
      Iraq 12 times and have met members of our armed
      services from D.C. risking their lives for our
      country," said Rep. Christopher Shays (news, bio,
      voting record), R-Conn. "They deserve a representative
      in Congress that has a vote. Ultimately, the politics
      of this issue will sort themselves out."

      ___

      On the Net:

      DC Vote: http://www.dcvote.org/
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