Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Hoyer: D.C. voting rights bill likely dead for this session

The Washington Post's Ben Pershing reports that House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer has announced that a D.C. voting rights bill will not come up this session, in part because of opposition to an amendment that would have eliminated most of the District's gun-control laws.

"At this point in time I do not see the ability to move it in this session of Congress," said Hoyer (D-Md.), who added that he was "extraordinarily disappointed."

D.C. has long sought a vote in the House, but many city leaders have expressed concerns about the gun amendment, and Hoyer blamed the amendment for preventing the measure from advancing.

The D.C. Council planned to reaffirm their opposition to the amendment today. Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), chairman of the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary, will introduce a resolution at the council meeting stating that Congress "must not adopt" the gun amendment if the bill advances.

A year ago, the Senate passed a D.C. voting rights bill for the first time since 1978, but lawmakers attached language that would wipe out most local gun laws and restrict the D.C. Council's power to enact new ones. House leaders shelved the legislation when it became clear that it would be difficult to block the gun amendment.

Under the voting measure, the House would add two members: one to the overwhelmingly Democratic District and the other, temporarily, to Republican-leaning Utah. That seat would then go to the state next in line for a representative based on the 2010 Census.

Hoyer said the bill was felled by a "combination of issues." In addition to divisions over provisions concerning the District's gun laws, the measure was also hurt by Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch's (R) declaration that he would oppose it because his state would be granted an at large congressional seat, rather than a new district whose lines the state's leaders could draw on their own.

But while Hoyer alluded to the Utah dispute, he made clear that the gun control language was the biggest stumbling block.

"The price was too high," Hoyer said.

Having lodged his objection to the House version of the voting rights measure, Hatch said Tuesday he was pleased by Hoyer's decision to pull it.

"If the choice was between this deeply-flawed bill and no bill at all, no bill is hands down the better option," Hatch said in a statement issued by his office. "This legislation made a mockery of our system of federalism by dictating to the State of Utah how it chooses its elected representatives. This type of arrogant, Washington-knows-best attitude is exactly why people are so angry, and why I'm glad this legislation will not move forward through the House."

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District's non-voting House member, said she asked Hoyer to pull the bill after negotiations with the pro-gun lobby were unsuccessful. Norton said she and the Democratic leadership were "shocked" by what she said was "NRA-drafted" gun language that would have gone further than the Senate bill in loosening the city's gun-control laws.

"I cannot agree to these egregious changes," Norton said in a statement. The changes, she said, would "directly proliferate guns throughout the District" and would have further eroded support for the legislation among Democrats, particularly in the Senate.
Norton and voting rights advocates said Tuesday that they would regroup and develop new strategies for reviving a voting rights bill.

Mendelson's resolution does not specify whether the D.C. Council would support the voting rights bill if the House does not remove the gun amendment. But a clear majority on the council believes that the voting rights bill should be killed if it also repeals most of the city's gun control laws and prevents D.C. leaders from enacting new ones.

In an emotional closed-door debate over breakfast this morning, council members decried the gun amendment, calling it an insulting infringement on Home Rule. Many members spoke passionately about District residents who have died from gun violence.

"I've got to look people in the faces and when they look back at me, I want them to respect me," council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) said. "I honestly believe they will not respect me when they hear I traded their safety for a vote" in Congress.

Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) called the voting rights bill "a devils bargain" if it also means that the city would have to allow the possession of semiautomatic weapons.

"It's a matter of principle," Cheh said. "We cannot allow ourselves to be maneuvered this way because, if you think about, what is the point of the one vote" in Congress?

A small majority of the 13-member council appeared willing to at least consider supporting the voting rights bill, even if it included the gun amendment.

Council members David A. Catania (I-At Large) argued that the National Rifle Association, which pushed for the gun amendment would probably revive the effort to undo the city's gun laws in another form later this year if the voting rights bill is shelved.

"This is a very tricky thing," Catania said. "We may wind up with our gun laws stripped without a vote ... anyway."

Council members Jack Evans (D-Ward 1) and Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7) also appeared open to supporting the voting rights bill, even with the gun amendment.

"There are not going to be legal guns committing these crimes, it's going to be illegal guns," Alexander said. "There are still going to be AK-47s, even without the gun amendment."

But council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), who was wounded in a shooting at City Hall in 1977, spoke about the nine youths gunned down in Southeast Washington last month. Barry told his colleagues "to talk to the countless parents who have lost their children" before they agree to support the gun amendment.

"Dr. King would be turning over in his grave," Barry said of the deal to swap voting rights for a slackening of gun control laws. "I have talked to hundreds of children who have got gunned down on the streets. We can sacrifice one vote for freedom and principle."

Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), however, fears that the gun amendment will surface one way or another because the NRA has considerable influence in Congress.

"It's just a matter of self-respect, we should reject this," Graham said. He then added, "But if they can't do it in April, they will do it in September because they know they have (the votes), and they have it with the support of the Democratic Party, which is the most shocking thing of all."

This post has been updated since it was first published.

-- Ben Pershing and Tim Craig


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

By Ben Pershing  |  April 20, 2010; 11:45 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. Council , Marion Barry , Tim Craig , Vincent C. Gray , Voting Rights  | Tags: Congress, District of Columbia voting rights, Marion Barry  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Cora Masters Barry on death of Dorothy Height
Next: D C. region's three leaders agree: Metro needs to be safer.

Comments

Congrats idiots, you just sacrificed something real for something imaginary.

Posted by: mendelsonmustgo | April 20, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

A pox on John Ensign and all those who supported the gun amendment. Talk about taking the Second Amendment too far.

Posted by: ravensfan20008 | April 20, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

A pox on Steny Hoyer and all those who supported the "D.C. voting rights bill". Talk about ignoring the Constitution.

How is enforcement of Constitutionally recognized inalienable rights “going too far”?

You dim-bulb democrats just don’t get it.

It is NOT a ‘living document’. You don’t get to drag it out only when it suits your purposes and ignore it when it doesn’t. It is the ultimate and supreme law of the land. If you don’t like what it says there are procedures contained within the document to change it. Amend it with those procedure or shut the &*%$ up!

Posted by: sosueme1 | April 20, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of ‘procedures’, why does the commenting software occasionally add a second iteration of a word at a line break? I’ve noticed it before but never on one of my posts.

Posted by: sosueme1 | April 20, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Where in the Constitution does it say someone from Nevada gets to make decisions for DC irrespective of DC's wishes?

As far as constitutionality of a vote, Google the "District Clause" and get back to me.

Posted by: ravensfan20008 | April 20, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Bad call. You need the vote than you need gun control. As long as the GOP continues to treat the District as their plantation, and thinks the NRA should have more say than the citizens you'll never have decent gun control .Should have gone for the vote.

Posted by: jckdoors | April 20, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

As a 10-year DC resident, I feel the district doesn't deserve a vote, considering we have a corrupt mayor and people like Marion Barry sitting on the council.

We can't even govern ourselves, we don't deserve a voice.

Posted by: kenk3 | April 20, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: ravensfan20008
Where in the Constitution does it say someone from Nevada gets to make decisions for DC irrespective of DC's wishes?
- - - - - - - - - - -
Ahh, that would be Article One, Section Eight, Clause Seventeen.
- - - - - - - - - - -
Posted by: ravensfan20008
As far as constitutionality of a vote, Google the "District Clause" and get back to me.
- - - - - - - - - - -
Huh? I just referenced the "District Clause" and you want me to look it up? Can I get a toke of whatever it is you’re smokin’?

MORON!

Posted by: sosueme1 | April 20, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I appreciate Steny Hoyer for recognizing that the bargain the people of DC were being asked to make in exchange for a vote in Congress was wrong and not worth it.

DC deserves a vote in Congress. We also deserve to have our legislators and decisions made here respected. Those like Ensign would be better off if they would do something for the unemployed in their own state and stop interferring in DC.

I will continue my support and work for a vote for our Representative and will do so until we have a clean bill to vote on.

I moved to DC knowing that my Representative didn't have a vote and have worked for one for over 30 years. A little longer won't hurt but more guns in DC would.

Maybe it is time to switch our lobbying efforts more strongly to Legislative and budget autonomy for the District. In some ways that will be of more benefit to us than the vote.

Posted by: peterdc | April 20, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Never give these fools a vote in congress...never! I wouldn't want a body of people intent on destroying the US Constitution to be able to have any say in the future of our country!

The DC Council does not want voting rights in congress until congress allows them to take away second amendment rights. This has to be the biggest bunch of fools I have ever heard of. Good luck chairman Gray getting those voting rights. These morons would rather protect squirrels than their citizens; this is the worst representation of the people in history. It would be better if came to everyone house and demanded that they infect themselves with an STD; talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face. IDIOTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111

Posted by: civilrightist | April 20, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Never give these fools a vote in congress...never! I wouldn't want a body of people intent on destroying the US Constitution to be able to have any say in the future of our country!

The DC Council does not want voting rights in congress until congress allows them to take away second amendment rights. This has to be the biggest bunch of fools I have ever heard of. Good luck chairman Gray getting those voting rights. These morons would rather protect squirrels than their citizens; this is the worst representation of the people in history. It would be better if came to everyone house and demanded that they infect themselves with an STD; talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face. IDIOTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: civilrightist | April 20, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Never give these fools a vote in congress...never! I wouldn't want a body of people intent on destroying the US Constitution to be able to have any say in the future of our country!

The DC Council does not want voting rights in congress until congress allows them to take away second amendment rights. This has to be the biggest bunch of fools I have ever heard of. Good luck chairman Gray getting those voting rights. These morons would rather protect squirrels than their citizens; this is the worst representation of the people in history. It would be better if came to everyone house and demanded that they infect themselves with an STD; talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face. IDIOTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: civilrightist | April 20, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

These MORONS actually believe they are protecting their citizens by not allowing law abiding CITIZENS to obtain firearms in a reasonable manner; while broadcasting notice to criminals that it is open feeding on the citizens; this council is responsible for every drive by shooting, carjacking and murder that was committed by a felon that could never obtain a weapon legally but felt empowered to committ mayhem in DC because those felons fear no reprisal from a law abiding citizen. The members of the DC council that oppose gun rights for LAW ABIDING CITIZENS should be taken from their homes and beaten to death with a weedwacker.

Posted by: civilrightist | April 20, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

It's the people who were willing to take this deal who were short-sighted. This year, it's "you can have a vote in Congress if you change your gun laws." Then the next time there's a Republican majority, it becomes "you can keep your vote in Congress if you change your abortion laws." Then it's gay marriage, then it's medical marijuana, etc. It was a sucker bet.
Why is democracy with no strings attached so unreasonable?

Posted by: ScotStone | April 20, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Mary Cheh and Phil Mendelson are racists. They do not want the majority of black people in the District to be able to obtain firearms like their white majority countrymen in Virginia.

Vincent Gray is an uncle tom; he sacrifices black people's God given rights to get into the pockets of the rich progressive Georgetown folk.

Marion Barry is a crack smoking embezzler that is 50 cards shy of a full deck.

These are the people responsible for the decay that continues to plague DC.

Posted by: civilrightist | April 20, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

It is astounding that as the "tea party movement" continues to gain momentum and press, I have not seen one mention of the fact that the original tea party was not about lower taxes, rather it was about "taxation without representation". Ironic that tea party demonstrations now take place on the very ground that remains the one district in our great Country that still practices taxation without representation.

Further, the argument that DC does not get a vote per the Constitution should have gone out the window when the Constitution was amended to allow for a Federal Income Tax. Does ANYONE believe the founders of this nation, who had just fought a war over taxation without representation, would have tolerated such a system? The Constitution may not provide for a vote for DC but it did not contain a provision to tax DC residents either. The minute the tax was instituted, they should have been granted representation in the body that levies that tax.

This travesty should offend everyone in this Country, republicans, democrats and tea party alike.

Posted by: MajorityRule | April 20, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

There should be no deal. Plain and simple, an amendment to the US Constitution is in order. I will not stand for paying taxes and not having a representative or senator vote for my interests.

Utah??? GFUSELVES! Why is there ANY deal with respect to representation of genuine US citizens!!! I get fighting mad about this.

Posted by: johng1 | April 20, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

No Guns, NO Vote. The One opportunity to get a vote is fleeting; come November congress will probably repeal all DC gun laws and DC will not get a vote. Punch a gift horse in the mouth!

Posted by: civilrightist | April 20, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Frack all of you

Posted by: johng1 | April 20, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse


Dead, as is should be. No compromise, no vote for those polygamists in Utah.


Posted by: mortified469 | April 20, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Taxation without representation....that's what its all about. We're never going to get voting rights in the District of Columbia so I am glad that Hoyer pulled the bill. This issue should not be about guns and it never should have been tacked on. Everybody knows that it would have been defeated and there would be opposition in Congress no matter what the District would give back (thanks Mr. Hatch.) No, we need to look into repealing the Federal Tax on the citizens of the District....like our license plate reads "taxation without representation." How sad!

Posted by: dlbmanagement | April 20, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Washington, D.C. deserves full representation in Congress because that city is in the contigious United States. The gun amendment in the bill shouldn't have been added the provision which gives Utah an at-large district shouldn't have been added because Utah has different districts for the House of Representatives. I don't oppose being a second Constitutional convention to give Washington, D.C. a full voting House of Representative and two full voting Senators.

Posted by: LibertyForAll | April 20, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

DC should be a state, or alternatively, retroceded to Maryland, (like Arlington was retroceded to Virginia). Either approach takes only congressional legislation (e.g. Article IV, section 3), and would cure the fundamental unfairness of the current arrangement.

Posted by: mikegordon1 | April 21, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Dear fellow posters,

Calling people idiots, morons, racists, dim-bulbs, fools, etc. tells us more about you than it does about the people you're talking about. Remember, "It takes one to know one".

Posted by: mikegordon1 | April 21, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

The framers didn't plan to disinfranchise a major American city. According to the DC Republican Party, Alexander Hamilton argued that Congress should give the District voting rights as soon as its population reached that of a Congressional district. Our population is now higher than some states.

The Republican party used to champion DC voting rights. Eisenhower mentioned it in 8 speeches to congress. George W Bush's grandfather wrote the legislation. This is not a Democratic issue. This is an American issue and Republicans should be embarassed to have picked up the mantle and talking points from the old dixiecrats who denied District voters for years.

Posted by: RCDC | April 21, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

This really isn't worth the effort to anyone living outside D.C. Give D.C. a counting vote, it doesn't make any difference anyway, there isn't enough difference in a Republican and a Democrat to tell the difference. Why should the congress keep D.C. representatives from getting the graft the rest of congress is privy to?

Posted by: prpetty | April 21, 2010 11:39 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company