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Rep. Hoyer Wants More Talk on Voting Rights Bill

It appears the House vote on the D.C. voting rights bill could be on hold until next week. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) released the following statement today:

"A House vote on the D.C. House Voting Rights Act will be postponed to allow more time for discussion on outstanding matters. I remain committed to working with the Democratic leadership, Congresswoman Norton, President Obama and all other supporters of D.C. voting rights to address the remaining challenges so we can bring this historic legislation to the Floor as soon as possible."

Meantime, voting rights advocates are fighting back. Ilir Zherka, executive director of D.C. Vote, a lobbying group, sent an email to supporters urging them to call Hoyer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Zherka wrote: "As you probably know, the House leadership postponed consideration of the DC House Voting Rights Act (H.R.157). Pro-gun lobbyists and their supporters on the Hill are attempting to amend the bill with language that repeals DC's gun laws. A similar gun amendment was passed in the Senate last week. Read more about the Senate amendment here. Our opponents are attempting to derail this critical voting legislation by attacking DC's local democracy. We need to tell Congress that this bill is too important to the more than half a million Americans living in Washington, DC, to dilute it with harmful amendments."

Update 2:06 p.m.: D.C. Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large) said the indefinite delay "is simply just a colossal disappointment."

"As the chairman says, what more do we have to do to earn our right as a full-fledged member of the American family?" he asked, referencing an earlier statement of Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D).

Catania said Sen. John Ensign (R-Nevada), who attached the gun amendment to the Senate version of the legislation, should worry about unemployment and foreclosures in his home state. "This country is facing serious challenges," he said. "If I were the people of Nevada, I would ask, 'What is my senator doing, trying to play council member in D.C.?'"

"All we have left is indignation," Catania said. "That's all we have left: anger and disgust."

Update 2:40 p.m.: Council member Mary Cheh has sent a sharply worded letter to Hoyer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Majority Leader Harry M. Reid, calling the gun amendments being sought on the D.C. bill "reckless and cynical." Read the letter here.

By David A Nakamura  |  March 4, 2009; 11:51 AM ET
Categories:  Voting Rights  
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Disgusting. The majority of congress wants to repeal DC's asinine gun laws. The majority recognizes that this right of law abiding citizens to own and keep a firearm in your home should never be infringed upon or limited in any way. Steny Hoyer and anyone that opposes allowing law abiding citizens to own firearms are anti-American and should be tossed out of congress for failure to abide by their sworn duty to uphold the U.S. Constitution

Ilir Zherka is an ignoramus. DC's local democracy should have no control of the right of every law-abiding citizen to keep and bear arms. I wish DC's local democracy would place some legislation about her keeping her mouth closed, that would also be unconstitutional but at least there would be some positive outcome of withholding her 1st amendment rights.

By the way, I don't think the criminals will be waiting to see how DC gun laws turn out; just us honest law-abiding citizens.

Posted by: civilrightist | March 4, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Civilrightist, you're missing the boat on two major points.

First, the DC gun laws have nothing to do with the fact that DC residents deserve a voting representative in congress.

Second, if you have a a problem gun laws, and you want congress to act, they need to apply the same rules to the entire country....not try to use gun control as a wedge issue while only effecting the same DC residents who don't currently have a vote in congress.

Posted by: res3355 | March 4, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Civilrightist - what does owning a gun have to do with getting a vote in Congress?

Why should the people of DC not have the right to author and vote on their own set of gun regulations - just like everywhere else in America? Do you actually believe people who have a history of violent crime should be allowed to purchase and own a gun? Those are the kind of regulations currently included in DC's gun laws - the same as many other parts of the country.

And Ilir Zherka is a man.

Try to get your facts straight before you start calling people names. It makes you look like an ignoramus.

Posted by: worthyfoe | March 4, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

But it's alright for DC to violate the civil rights of it's residents. NO VOTE.

Posted by: askgees | March 4, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Civilrightist - what does owning a gun have to do with getting a vote in Congress?

Why should the people of DC not have the right to author and vote on their own set of gun regulations - just like everywhere else in America? Do you actually believe people who have a history of violent crime should be allowed to purchase and own a gun? Those are the kind of regulations currently included in DC's gun laws - the same as many other parts of the country.

And Ilir Zherka is a man.

Try to get your facts straight before you start calling people names. It makes you look like an ignoramus.

Posted by: worthyfoe | March 4, 2009 2:12 PM

All of which violate the Supreme Courts orders. So DC is in contempt of court and because of this the vote should be postponed. Comply with the courts orders then we’ll try again.

Posted by: askgees | March 4, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

"civilrightist"-- ??? -- LOL

Posted by: jmfromdc | March 4, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

I'm pro gun rights and live in DC. I don't get the logic of people who think the DC City Council "stripped" gun owners of their rights so therefore it's okay to deny DC citizens further rights, i.e., voting representation Congress. I would argue that this is a more fundamental right, one stated in the Declaration of Independence:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights...That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed"

We DCers don't consent to taxation without representation. We don't consent to a Congressman from Nevada overriding our locally elected government.

If you don't agree with DC's gun laws, move here, take the city to court and pursue rights the constitutinal way. It sure is easy to sit in west BF and opine that DC residents should be denied a fundamental human right.

Posted by: ksbarker3064 | March 4, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

askgees - actually, the Supreme Court struck down the ban on handguns. The DC Council then created a new set of gun regulations in compliance with the Supreme Court's ruling. Your comment has no relevance because it is not based on fact.

May I suggest you "try again!"

Posted by: worthyfoe | March 4, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

res3355, worthyfoe: Actually, DC's new gun laws are not in compliance. The District is being sued by many parties currently.

I do not believe people with a violent history (i.e. felons, involuntarily committed mental patients, domestic violence) should be able to purchase a gun. That is is why it is restricted in the UNITED STATES CODE that applies to every jurisdiction in the UNITED STATES. This would never be repealed, only the asinine requirements in DC that exist nowhere else in the nation. And you call me ignorant because I confused the sex of a person with the name Ilir, What does that make you since you have not read the U.S. Constitution or the United States Code?

res3355: A wedge issue is exactly what I want. This is politics after all. It is give and take. Resolve one party's agenda by resolving the other party's agenda-I might add that I believe voting rights in DC is a worthwhile but unconstitutional cause that would need to be changed with the creation of a constitutional amendment. Furthermore, there is nothing more important than every law-abiding American having full access to all of his constitutional rights, especially the first ten. Any jurisdiction that restricts those rights...well I sure would not want that jurisdiction to be part of the legislative body that determines the policy of the whole United States.

And worthyfoe, try hard to have an adult discussion online without insulting people on their beliefs; it will make you more relevant and convincing. Just a suggestion.

Posted by: civilrightist | March 4, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Here is an idea for the DC Council; legalize every weapon ever invented, allow them to be concealed and only allow weapon sales at shows (no backround check required). DC sales tax revenue would sky rocket, DC residents could reverse the flow of weapons and money from Va to Va, members of congress would'nt have to waste the tax payers money to travel to Iraq or Afganistan to check out a war zone just walk out their front door (if they are brave enough) and our medical facilities could pioneer research into the treatment of mass scale slaughter (in case the war on terror rears it's ugly head here). And finally, the members of Congress could move their entire family here and have them protected by there very own armed security team, something they probably can't do in their home state (I wonder why?)

Posted by: jmfromdc | March 4, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

If you think this is anything other than a ploy to get more votes in congress, think again and this time check your partisanship at the door.

This would apply to Republicans as well if they were the ones doing it.

I dont know who Congress thinks theyre fooling, but they should always remember that its the people that have the guns, and we are not scared to use them when pushed too far.

...... Which is what I think is coming....

Posted by: indep2 | March 4, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

This whole mess is a self-inflicted wound of the DC government. It's rear-guard resistance to the supreme Court is failing. If DC wants to have voting representation, it shouldn't try to "pick and choose" among which parts of the Constitution it chooses to honor.

Posted by: mncwva | March 4, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

I suggest you call congress and tell them to vote no. It is unconstitutional. I say this as a 30-year DC resident.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | March 4, 2009 5:11 PM | Report abuse

I find it funny that certain DC residents are claiming they are being denied their consitutional rights because they are not represented in the House by a voting representative and turn around and demand that other residents in the city should not be allowed to excercize their own consitutional rights outlined in the Second Amendment.

ksbarker3064 even goes so far as to quote (selectively) from the Declaration of Independence. All fine and good. Except that we are not governed by the Declaration of Independence, we are governed by our Consitution. That Constitution's Bill of Rights protects the rights of Americans to keep and bear arms (regardless of what state one resides, or even if they do not reside in a state at all, say, a capitol city). However, that same Constitution creates the requirement for representation in congress of being from the "several states".

DC is not a state. It's boundary was taken from the states of Maryland and Virginia. As a capitol city, it is represented by all House members and Senators.

Gun rights, like free speech are inalienable rights given by our Creator to all Americans. Representation in the House is reserved for those who live in the "several states" in the union.

You pro-DC representation but anti-DC gun rights people are taking an unconstitutional view of both issues. Consistent yes, but still wrong. You want a voting House member, move to a state, there are 50 of them, take your pick. Otherwise, amend the Constitution, make DC a state, etc. Just stop shredding the Consitution whenever you see fit.

Posted by: mdpotter | March 4, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

jmfromdc -- DC has some of the tightest gun laws in the country. Virginia has concealed-carry laws and open carry.

Your point would make sense if DC wasn't so violent and Virginia was like the wild west. Find some statistics to back up your claims/opinions.

Mine show that the states with concealed-carry have less violent crime than those without. Mine show that people who have a concealed-carry permit do not commit crimes. But hey, why let a few facts get in the way of your opinion, right?

Posted by: mdpotter | March 4, 2009 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Although unrelated to the gun ownership issue specifically, taxes paid by DC residents are the foundation for the argument "no taxation without representation" as I understand it. I can't seem to find anywhere just how many dollars DC residents (human being/potential voters, not businesses) pay in federal taxes. Does anyone have a reliable number? I've heard "billions," but I don't know where that number comes from.

Posted by: chug760 | March 4, 2009 6:24 PM | Report abuse

I’m amused.

It may not be logical or especially fair, but it sure makes political sense. If DC had not so vigorously thumbed its nose at both the Constitution AND the Supreme Court (with its scofflaw regulations AFTER the 2nd Amendment decision), they would not have engendered the wrath of so many in Congress. Tough luck, DC. You invited it.

Posted by: RealityCheckerInEffect | March 4, 2009 9:06 PM | Report abuse

I am a Washington resident. I definitely dont agree with the newly passed gun laws. I cant even tell that I would buy a gun. Maybe I would...maybe I wouldn't. But I feel I should have the choice to do so if I wanted to. I would have the choice if I lived anywhere else. I not trying to be cynical but I have to agree with civilrightist on a point. What is the landscape of Congress going to look like now? Considering they will be allowing entry to a rep that comes from a place where they not only knowingly, but proudly trampled on Constitutional rights. Shameful. What will the hopes of sound politics be then? Yep I'm black and under 40.

Posted by: dc_concerned_citizen | March 4, 2009 9:15 PM | Report abuse

To jmfromdc: For the folks who desire a choice in whether or not they can by a weapon in DC are not looking for extremes; just choices. I dont think anyone expects the extremes you describe. They arent looking for extremes in the other direction either. Being sarcastic helps no one. You were being sarcastic right?

Posted by: dc_concerned_citizen | March 4, 2009 9:24 PM | Report abuse

First the people who live in DC, U.S. Citizens, deserve the right to representation as much as any citizen of the states. I understand that some people think it is unconstitutional based on Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution which states "The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several states, and the electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislature." However please also have a look at Section 8 which states "To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District ..." I really think the argument can be made in either direction, we have a true contradiction.

As far as the gun laws, I dislike how restrictive D.C.'s gun laws are, but I don't think that violent offenders or the mentally ill should have guns. In addition I do not think that representation for the District should be hog tied to the gun amendment.

BTW I am a Washingtonian.

Posted by: g_loizzo | March 4, 2009 9:48 PM | Report abuse

DC is not a state and therefore does not qualify for congressional representation. Further, DC "City" Government is probably the most corrupt and ineffective government in the US. Just look at Marion Barry and his role in governing DC. Somehow he still gets elected for whatever he runs for. Every year there is a new huge scandal within the government whether it be a tax scam, embezzlement of millions of dollars that went unchecked for years to the DC Public Schools which are among the worst in country and their terrible Police force. They have great difficultly governing themselves and consistently look like bumbling idiots and if anything, require the Federal Government to oversee the City Government. If you don't believe me, go to DC yourself and try to get something accomplished. Something like paying a parking ticket, getting a permit to do anything, etc. Say No to DC Representation.

Posted by: neil64 | March 4, 2009 11:14 PM | Report abuse

Neil64 I've live in DC and have lived in Virginia and Indiana and find the DC government much easier and friendly to work with than those other states. The DMV, Tax issues, notification of services, etc.. You listen to much to disgruntled people or exagerate everything you read. Corruption is everywhere, but there is nowhere else where a city council is so involved with their actual citizens and have actual concern for their well being. If its Carol Schwartz responding to emails immediately or Vincent Gray bagging groceries at Safeway, this city council is the most responsive represenative chamber in the US. Remember the DC council has the reponsibilty of most state legislatures and we've been at it a just little over 30 years. and by the way..We don't ask the feds to oversee us they insist on it.and hows the budget lookng in VA and MD..hmmm

Posted by: dcnyave | March 5, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

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