December 4, 2008

DC Likely to Gain Voting Member of Congress


by Nick Juliano

Eleanor Holmes Norton's schedule is likely going to become a lot more crowded in the next year. [SOURCE]

With Barack Obama's election, along with Democratic gains in the Senate, Norton -- the District of Columbia's non-voting delegate to the House of Representatives -- is poised to become a full-fledged Representative, giving DC a voting member of Congress for the first time in the nation's history.

Senate Democrats have added at least seven members to their caucus this year, with two races yet to be decided. While a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority remains elusive, the gains should be enough to move forward a DC voting-rights bill, among other measures that are supported by moderate Republicans, the Washington Post notes Monday.

Under a measure that passed the House by a wide margin last year, Norton would receive a vote in the House on behalf of the District's nearly 600,000 residents. The bill also would give Utah an additional House member, bringing the total in the House to 437.

The bill fell to a Republican-led filibuster in the Senate on a 57-42 vote, but this year's Democratic pick-ups seem likely to assure its passage if it returns to the floor. All seven Republicans who were replaced by Democrats voted against the measure.

President-elect Barack Obama co-sponsored the Senate bill and would be expected to sign the measure into law.

Norton, who co-sponsored last year's measure, says she will reintroduce it sometime in the next session of Congress, although the timing has yet to be decided.

After 209 years, District residents will have not only a president who has already changed America, and the president that our residents most wanted, but they will have a Democratic president, who, as senator, co-sponsored the District of Columbia Voting Rights Act, and has told me he will sign our bill,” Norton said in a statement, released after Obama's victory. 


Congress fixed the number of House seats at 435 in 1911. The body temporarily increased to 437 members in 1959 to give Alaska and Hawaii one member each, then returned back to 435 members after the next census.

5 comments:

Kim said...

I'm sure this is some highly political reasoning behind why DC has never had a vote. But no one has ever fully explained to me why a country that was founded after a big "taxation without representation" fight left a whole city without actual representation. It's no longer part of a state, and probably for its uniqueness shouldn't get state status, but a Congressional member with voting power would be nice. Chocolate City is full of very real people.

Monica Roberts said...

Originally, DC was designed to be just the capital and have few if any permanent residents. Over time that changed.

You can bet if those 600,000 DC residents had been White Faux news and right wing talk radio would be championing their 'taxation without representation' status every five seconds.

Villager said...

Kim - There is no logical reason. I hope that DC gets a voting member of congress under Obama's presidency...

Monica - Thanx for the historical background. Things are gonna be changing with our incoming POTUS...

Black on Campus said...

This is long, long, long overdue!

Villager said...

Ajuan - Amen! Hopefully it gets done this time around...