Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Taxation Without Representation for D.C. - AGAIN


D.C. Voting Rights Bill Derailed in Senate
By Michael Teitelbaum
3:50 PM; Sep. 18, 2007

The Senate on Tuesday dealt what is likely to be a fatal blow this year to legislation giving the District of Columbia full voting representation in the U.S. House.

An effort to invoke cloture drew a 57-42 majority but fell short of the 60 votes needed to limit debate on a motion to call up the measure (S 1257). Eight Republicans voted “yes,” and one Democrat, Max Baucus of Montana, voted “no.”

The bill would grant full voting rights to the District’s current delegate and create one additional seat in the House, initially to be given to Utah, bringing the chamber to 437 voting members and four non-voting delegates.

The setback likely dooms the legislation for the entire 110th Congress. Opponents, led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the Constitution limits membership in the House to representatives from “the several states,” and the District is not a state.

He hailed the Senate’s action, declaring the bill was “clearly and unambiguously unconstitutional.” He added, “If the residents of the District are to get a member for themselves, there remains a remedy: amend the Constitution.”

Congress tried that route almost 30 years ago. In 1978, the 95th Congress passed a constitutional amendment to grant the District full membership in both the House and Senate. But the amendment carried a seven-year limit for ratification by three-fourths of the states (38), and only 16 had ratified it by the time the deadline arrived.

The Senate’s senior Democrat, Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, agreed with McConnell and other Republicans who argued that only a constitutional amendment could grant the District a vote in Congress.

While Byrd was absent for the vote, he issued a statement explaining his position. “We cannot pick and choose which provisions of the Constitution we will abide by, and which we will set aside whenever convenient,” he said. “If one provision of the Constitution can be circumvented, then so can others just as easily. Let us provide the citizens of the District of Columbia with full voting rights in both the House and the Senate, and do so the proper way, by passing a joint resolution to amend the Constitution.”

The House passed its version of the voting rights bill (HR 1905) on April 19 by a 241-177 vote.

Veto Threat

But even if supporters of the measure had been able to move it through the Senate, it had little chance of becoming law.

The White House meanwhile renewed its threat that President Bush would veto the legislation, declaring, “The bill violates the Constitution’s provisions governing the composition and election of the United States Congress.”

Although the legislation appeared to command a majority of members in both chambers, its support did not reach the two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto.

Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, a cosponsor of the bill, said the legal issue was not as clear-cut as critics suggested, because the Constitution also gives Congress power over the District of Columbia, the nation’s capital. And he noted the bill contained provisions expediting a Supreme Court review of its constitutionality.

“We’re prepared to accept whatever the Supreme Court says,” he declared.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and other advocates argued that District residents pay taxes, serve in the armed forces and sit on federal juries, yet “they are given only a ‘delegate’ in Congress, not a real voting member. This is nothing more than ‘shadow representation.’ This injustice has stood for far too long. Shadow representation is shadow citizenship.”

Joseph I. Lieberman, I-Conn., chief sponsor of the measure, said it aimed to correct “taxation without representation” for 600,000 Americans who live in the District.

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat, Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, R-Va., and Mayor Adrian Fenty were in the Senate chamber lobbying Republicans to support the cloture motion. But their efforts were in vain.

This story originally appeared in CQ Today.

Once again, no representation to go along with the representation for The District of Columbia. We can dance around it all we want, but it's no surprise as to why the GOP blocked it - AGAIN. Yeah, that GOP really wants that 'Big Tent'. Once again, birds chirping waiting on comments from Black GOPers.

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