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Obama: Congress needs to pass D.C. voting rights

President Obama is urging Congress to approve a D.C. voting rights bill, just as one is scheduled to come before the U.S. House of Representatives next week.

Although Obama has long indicated he supported giving District residents a vote on Congress, some advocates have accused him of being too silent on the subject. Earlier this year, some local advocates launched a campaign urging Obama to mention D.C. voting rights in his State of the Union address. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) also wrote Obama asking that he mention the cause in his speech, but he did not bring it up during his 70-minute address.

But in a statement the White House issued today to commemorate Emancipation Day, which honors the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln freeing the slaves in the District, Obama calls on Congress to pass a D.C. voting rights bill.

"Americans from all walks of life are gathering in Washington today to remind members of Congress that although D.C. residents pay federal taxes and serve honorably in our armed forces, they do not have a vote Congress or full autonomy over local issues," Obama said. "And so I urge Congress to finally pass legislation that provides D.C. residents with voting representation and to take steps to improve the Home Rule charter."

Obama's statement makes no reference to his position on the so-called gun amendment that has been attached to the legislation, which also temporarily gives Utah another congressional seat. That gun amendment would undue many of the city's gun control laws. But Norton and other Democratic congressional leaders believe the voting rights bill cannot pass without the amendment.

"It's very significant," Norton said. "I told the White House this was the opportune time to do it."

--Tim Craig

By Tim Craig  |  April 16, 2010; 1:18 PM ET
Categories:  Tim Craig , Voting Rights  
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Not as long as Fenty's mayor.

Posted by: | April 16, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Creating DC as a separate "state-like" entity without going through the process of actually creating a state seems to me to be a blatant violation of the constitution. I would favof ceding parts of DC to Maryland, much the same as VA received Arlington and Alexandria back.

Posted by: dave411 | April 16, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

It's hard to believe that the President would favor treating the district city as a state since he has sworn to uphold the Constitution and supposedly taught constitutional law. I don't understand why this administration always wants to do things "on the cheap", cutting corners instead of following the way. Using reconciliation to pass the "Obama Scare" Health Plan is just another example.

Posted by: rtatlow | April 16, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

It's hard to believe that in 2010 people can still rationalize denying a voting representative for the District and its American citizens. The capital of the leading democracy in the world doesnt have
voting rights for its residents?! How can we explain that to Iraqis, for example?

Posted by: ArnoldWoodrich | April 16, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

D.C. cannot legally have voting rights in Congress as it is not a state. It took a Constitutional Amendment to grant them the right to vote in a Presidential Election.

I guess Obama does not understand this.

Posted by: warhawk911 | April 16, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Another end run around the, what else is new?

Posted by: sosueme1 | April 16, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Washington, D.C. is part of the contigious United States and as such, should have full representation in Congress like states. It's true that the Constitution administers Washington, D.C. differently from states so I'm not opposed to there being a second Constitutional convention. A more sensible way to give Washington, D.C. equal representation is through a constitional amendment. It's good that President Obama supports the bill in Congress. Although gun laws in that city would be challenged if that bill becomes law, voting rights exceeds gun laws.

Posted by: LibertyForAll | April 16, 2010 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Given the kinda of clowns and crooks DC now elects, why in God's name would we allow them to elect a Congressman? Besides, DC isn't a state

Posted by: almelbe | April 16, 2010 10:15 PM | Report abuse

Dear Sir Madam:

Article 1, Section *:

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;

Interpretation: This clause enables Congress to govern the District of Columbia. Congress has now delegated that power to a locally elected government, subject to federal oversight.

So, unless a Constitutional amendment is passed...DC can't be represented in Congress as a State. Sorry about that. Now try to pass the Amendment.

Unless of course Mr. President can do some sleight of hand...sort of like reconcilliation.

Posted by: wjc1va | April 16, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Obama will need all the votes he can get in the 2012 election to win. As far as I'm concerned he's a lame duck president and makes Jimmy Carter look like a saint.

Posted by: 45upnorth | April 17, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Of course Obama is in favor of a DC Representative in Congress -- one more permanent liberal Democrat in the House. Two more liberal Democratic Senators, sure, why not. Ignore the Constitution at his own peril.

Posted by: billlev613 | April 17, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the solution is to allow D.C. residents to carry Maryland or Virginia resident and voting status.

Posted by: RealTexan1 | April 17, 2010 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Maryland doesn't want D.C. so how about Virginia takes D.C. and leave us alone! We already have the spill over of their crime! Make D.C. a separate state or put them under Virginia and give them all the rights they should be available to have, otherwise they should not be paying TAXES since they are not a STATE.

Posted by: roxannebs | April 19, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

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