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Brown, Alexander back off voting bill support over gun control issue

Council members Kwame Brown (D-At large) and Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7) are stepping back from their previous statements in support the D.C. rights bill, which currently includes a provision that would strip the city of most of its gun control laws.

On Friday, when President Obama issued a statement in support of D.C. voting rights, Brown quickly followed with his own statement, "Now is the time for voting rights."

"We have reached a critical moment," Brown said in his statement Friday. "I strongly urge members of Congress and my colleagues to support this important step in granting the District a vote in the House."

Since then, however, Brown has clarified his position.

After the Washington Post editorial board and Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) both announced their opposition to the voting rights bill because of the gun amendment, Brown sent out a statement today stating he, too, opposes the passage of the bill if the gun amendment is included.

"I am against passing vote rights if it means abrogating our ability to protect the citizens of the District of Columbia through constitutional gun laws," said Brown, a candidate for council chairman, said today. "But we must stand together in the effort to achieve full statehood. Now is the time for voting rights, but if it means we have to erode our local governing authority, we must wait for a better opportunity to strike."

Alexander also now seems to staking out a more cautious approach.

On Thursday, when Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) announced plans to move forward with a House of Representatives vote on the matter, Alexander issued a statement saying she supported Norton's decision. Alexander's statement was titled "Pass the DC Voting Rights Bill."

But Alexander, through a spokesman, said today that statement was meant to show support for Norton's efforts to work this week to get the gun amendment removed or weakened before the House vote. If the amendment is not removed, Alexander is non-committal as to whether to Congress should approve the voting rights bill.

Last year, the council unamiously approved a resolution stating "Congress must not adopt any amendment to the District of Columbia Voting Rights Act restricting the District government's ability to legislate the regulation of firearms."

--Tim Craig

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By Tim Craig  |  April 19, 2010; 6:53 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. Council , Tim Craig , Vincent C. Gray , Voting Rights  | Tags: District of Columbia voting rights, Eleanor Holmes Norton  
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