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Hoyer: D.C. Voting Bill Can't Pass 'At This Point'

By Paul Kane
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said today that congressional leaders have given up on trying to approve the D.C. voting rights legislation until the District Council comes to consensus on accepting a companion bill supported by gun-rights supporters.

Hoyer said there was no way to approve the measure without a gun amendment that does away with the District's strict gun-control laws and makes it difficult for District officials to restrict gun rights in the future. That measure has left local officials and residents divided over whether the right to have a vote in Congress, after more than 200 years of non-voting representation by a delegate, trumps sacrificing control over the city's gun laws, which are considered some of the strictest in the nation and resulted in a Supreme Court ruling last year overturning the ban on all hand guns.

"There is not a consensus among the leadership of the District of Columbia on this issue as I understand it. And as a result of there not being consensus, I don't think we're going to be able to move the bill at this point in time," said Hoyer, whose dual role as a House leader and resident of neighboring Prince George's County has made him the point man on Capitol Hill on the voting rights legislation.

The measure would expand the House permanently by two seats, to 437 members, giving one of the seats to the District of Columbia and another to Utah, which just missed out on receiving an additional seat during the decennial reapportionment of House seats after the 2000 Census.

However, an overwhelming majority of lawmakers in both chambers supported the gun rights amendment, offered in the House by Rep. Travis Childers (D-Miss.) and in the Senate by John Ensign (R-Nev.). Despite the gun-control positions of most leaders in congressional Democratic ranks, the Democrats have had huge electoral successes in the 2006 and 2008 elections by electing pro-gun Democrats from rural and southern regions, who like to appear in campaign commercials toting shotguns.

More than 20 Democrats supported the gun amendment in the Senate, and more than 100 House Democrats supported the gun amendment there.

"It's clear that the [gun rights amendment] has a majority of votes," Hoyer said, calling it "difficult if not impossible" to even consider the voting rights measure on the House floor without the gun amendment.

"I will not give up on this bill. I will continue to work it," Hoyer said, but he put the onus on the future of voting rights squarely on the shoulders of local officials.

"At this point in time, as I said, we don't have consensus," he said

By Ben Pershing  |  June 9, 2009; 3:03 PM ET
Categories:  Dem. Leaders , House  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Today on the Hill
Next: McKeon Wins Top GOP Armed Services Slot, Will Vacate Education Post


Seems like there's always another reason to keep disenfranchising the 600,000 residents of DC. It's a total disgrace, and it's a shame we can't get the same rights as the rest of the country in the nation's capital.

Posted by: whodeykm | June 9, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Hoyer, you guys suck! Give me my federal taxes back scum!

Posted by: johng1 | June 9, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

The Voting rights bill was written by a Member of Congress with few friends within the caucus (which might explain why the Congressional Black Caucus never made much stink about DC voting rights). This same member tailored legislation that would pass under a GOP led Legislation and a GOP White House.

If the areas outside of the "seat of government" were to become a new territory, we could become a new entity altogether and THEN become a state.

There'd be no gun amendments to an "State of East Washington" bill, at least once the current District of Columbia ceased to exist.

But this will never happen so long as we have a territorial and clueless delegate represent the District in Congress, one who is also, on the record as being opposed to statehood for DC in any form.

Hoyer blames the DC Council for the lack of passage, but it's clear that the majority of the blame for today's gloomy news goes to Eleanor Holmes Norton and the Democratic Party's soon to be Minority leadership on the Hill.

Posted by: nwrepresent1 | June 9, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

To "whodeykm,"

Those 600,000 residents disenfranchised themselves. The logo on the DC license plate should read "Taxation Without Representation BY CHOICE!" No one forces you to work, and or live, in the District. Every District government employee chose their jobs; some know that they will have to live in the city as a condition of employment, at the cost of certain voting rights. If you think your right to vote is paramount, then just move somewhere else. You're an adult and knew the rules when you moved here.

Posted by: DCeiver | June 9, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse


Who are the bigger idiots - DC Government or US Congress? All that is necessary is that DC accept the Bill of Rights. That's it. But what they want is power and influence for themselves (Norton is a club member) and to heck with the rights of the people.

I am in favor of some muck in the US Congress being the governor of DC forever more. Let them crawl to congress for every budget issue. Let them beg for every dime. Guess they thought Obama was going to clear the way and magically grant all their wishes. Surprise!!!!

No wonder some of the founders of this country fought so hard for a BOR, otherwise we'd have NO RIGHTS at all.

Posted by: mdsinc | June 9, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

The Borgen Project has some good info on the cost of addressing global poverty.

$30 billion: Annual shortfall to end world hunger.
$550 billion: U.S. Defense budget

Posted by: atsegga | June 10, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Well so it has now been shown that imperialism lives on in the US Congress. DCeiver must really live in a small yuppy bubble, if he thinks that even a third of the citizens of the district chose to live there. Most of them were born there, their parents were born there and their grandparents were born there. And if they could get out they would. Those out of towners that moved here to take jobs are a small percentage and not representative of the population as a whole. (They are probably mostly republican.)

@mdsinc The Bill of Rights states that all authority not specifically cited in the Constitution are reserved to the local governments. So where does the Congress of the US get off on making local law.

Posted by: joeller | June 11, 2009 9:53 PM | Report abuse

the rights of americans in every part of our country should be uniform.
but then again,we have less rights than we had yesterday,and more than we will have tomorrow. google
watch the newsclip,and you will understand so much. real eye opener.

Posted by: silusdogood | June 12, 2009 10:41 PM | Report abuse

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