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Del. Norton on D.C. Voting Rights: All Lights on Go

It's a heady day for District leaders on Capitol Hill. At a news conference celebrating the Senate's historic vote to allow the D.C. Voting Rights bill to reach the floor for debate, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) said: "We are ready for whatever masquerades as an obstacle. ... We see all lights on go. There can be no turning back now."

Added Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D): "Today is a breakthrough in the full franchise of the people of the District. ... We know we have a long way to go, but today is an amazing step forward."

The D.C. Voting Rights bill would give the majority Democratic District a House seat, along with an extra seat for predominantly Republican Utah. A reporter asked Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) why not introduce a bill that would give the District full statehood -- two senators and a representative.

"Let's try to get this done. I'm for full statehood, always have been," Reid replied. "But let's try to get this done."

Asked about legal challenges to the bill if it is approved and signed by President Obama, Reid said: "I'm confident it will be upheld by the Supreme Court."

Asked about the potential of amendments being added to the bill by Senators who are opposed to it in an effort to stop it, Reid said: "We feel confident that any mischievous admendment will be tabled."

Meantime, more reaction is coming in from local pols. Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large) released this statement: "Today's vote in the United States Senate represents a major step forward for basic democratic rights for all Americans. While there is still more work to be done on this issue, by withstanding a cloture vote in the Senate we have cleared a major hurdle on the path to gain full representation for District residents. There are countless numbers of people who have helped us get to this point. I'd like to particularly thank Mayor Fenty, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Senators Joseph Lieberman and Orin Hatch, and Ilir Zherka and the staff at D.C. Vote for their tireless efforts. I am very optimistic that our residents will soon have a vote in the United States Congress."

And council member Michael A. Brown (D-At Large) said in a statement: "I am extremely pleased about the passage of the cloture motion which will allow the DC House Voting Rights Bill to move forward for a full floor debate and consideration. This initial first step victory elevates our fight for full citizenship.

"While this is in no way a final victory, it a good start and I am confident that we will overcome the obstacles ahead as we appeal to the Senate to vote on a clean bill, minus extraneous amendments that weigh down the process. I encourage the Senators to search their hearts and vote their convictions on the fundamental issue of democracy."

By David A Nakamura  |  February 24, 2009; 2:34 PM ET
Categories:  Voting Rights  
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Next: Sen. Burris Helps D.C. Celebrate Voting Rights

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