Obama Puts Weight Behind DC Vote Bill
For the first time, President Obama today threw his support behind the marathon push to grant the residents of the nation’s capitol a voting representative in Congress. From the White House statement:
Americans from all walks of life are gathering in Washington today to remind members of Congress that although DC residents pay federal taxes and serve honorably in our armed services, they do not have a vote in Congress or full autonomy over local issues. And so I urge Congress to finally pass legislation that provides DC residents with voting representation and to take steps to improve the Home Rule Charter.
The bill — which also gives Utah another House member — passed the Senate last year, but not before Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) successfully attached an amendment scrapping most of D.C.’s strict gun laws. Realizing that moderate Democrats in the House would support that provision, liberal House leaders have refused to bring the bill to the floor, leaving it idle for the last 14 months.
Earlier this week, there was a breakthrough: Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), a fierce opponent of the Ensign amendment, reluctantly agreed to accept some version of it for the sake of giving the District more voice in Congress.
“It is now clear that the gun amendment can be passed as a stand-alone bill or attached to another piece of legislation, and we see no better opportunity in sight for voting rights for our residents,” she said.
The New York Times disagrees. In an editorial today, the paper argues that the elimination of the gun restrictions is too high a price to pay for the underlying bill.
“The legislation would intrude on home-rule prerogatives by repealing the district’s restrictions on semiautomatic weapons, rolling back requirements for registering most guns and even dropping existing criminal penalties for owners of unregistered firearms,” the Times says.”It is a cynical, sickening compromise.”