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Gray, Fenty, D.C. Republicans Cheer Senate Vote

Senate Cloture Vote 2-24-09 002.jpg D.C. Vote Executive Director Ilir Zherka, D.C. Council members Phil Mendelson, Jim Graham, Chairman Vincent C. Gray and Mary Cheh, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and others celebrate after the Senate vote today. (Photo by Doxie McCoy.)

D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) was downright giddy minutes ago about today's Senate vote.

"Isn't this fantastic? What an exciting moment for the city of the District of Columbia and 600,000 people who live here," Gray said. "This was a huge victory."

However, he said, "this is the beginning of a long journey."

Gray said there is concern about unfriendly amendments that could be proposed. "We certainly don't want any poison pills," he said.

Ten council members went to the Hill today. Those missing were Yvette M. Alexander (D-Ward 7), Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) and Jack Evans (D-Ward 2).

The D.C. Republican Party also praised the senate for taking up the legislation.

"We thank the Republican Senators who voted for cloture," D.C. Republican Committee Chairman Robert Kabel said. "Today, marks a historic day for the District and I am proud that Republicans were a part of it."

The local party members have met with Republican Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), and several top aides from the offices of Senators Kit Bond, Chuck Grassley, Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe and former Senators Chuck Hagel and Gordon Smith.

Update 2:08 p.m.: Mayor Fenty weighs in with the following statement: "This vote was an encouraging first step in the passage of the DC Voting Rights Act by the U.S. Senate and I hope that the vote on final passage will follow suit. We are extremely pleased that the issue of DC voting rights is finally getting a full and fair hearing by the Congress and I look forward to the House of Representatives taking up its important companion legislation quickly to bring the District yet another step closer to full representation. I'd like to especially thank Senators Joe Lieberman and Orrin Hatch for championing this bill."

By Nikita R Stewart  |  February 24, 2009; 12:23 PM ET
Categories:  Voting Rights  
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