WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., expressed deep disappointment Tuesday at the Senate’s inability to overcome a threatened filibuster and vote to grant residents of the District of Columbia equal voting representation in Congress. S. 1257, “The District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2007” – which would have given the District voting representation in the House of Representatives and increased Utah’s congressional delegation by one member – was temporarily defeated by a procedural vote that required 60 votes. The tally was 57-42, three shy of the votes needed.
“I am deeply disappointed that, having come so close, we were not able to overcome a handful of opponents to move forward with this critically important civil rights bill,” Lieberman said. “For too long the residents of the District of Columbia have been denied a full vote in the House, and each day this injustice continues is a discredit to our democracy. My colleagues, unfortunately, chose filibuster over fairness, refusing to even allow Senate consideration of the D.C. voting rights bill. But we are undeterred and will keep working until we have the votes we need.”
Praising S. 1257 as a bipartisan bill, Lieberman said he would continue working to change three no votes to aye in the 110th Congress. And if that effort is unsuccessful, he predicted better luck in the 111th Congress.
“For more than two centuries, residents of the District of Columbia have suffered the indignity of disenfranchisement. They have paid federal taxes, died in wars and borne all the other burdens of citizenship – all without the honor and recourse of a full voice in either house of Congress,” said Lieberman. “This is a national embarrassment and we will not stop working until we correct it.”
Lieberman has a long history of supporting equal representation for D.C. residents. In 2001, he introduced S. 603, “The No Taxation Without Representation Act of 2001,” which would have provided congressional representation to D.C. citizens. On May 1, 2007, Lieberman, along with Senators Orrin Hatch and Robert Bennett, R-Utah., introduced the Senate legislation defeated Tuesday. It would have added two more voting seats in the House of Representatives, one for the District of Columbia and one for the State of Utah, based on updated population figures from the 2000 Census. The House passed a similar bill on April 20 by a vote of 241-177.
“To have your voice heard by your government is central to a functioning democracy and fundamental to a free society. Members from both parties and both houses have finally come together to find a solution to break the stalemates of the past that have denied D.C. residents equal representation in the Congress of the United States,” said Lieberman. “Now is the time to give the residents of the District what they so richly deserve and that is the same civic entitlement that every other federal tax-paying American citizen enjoys, no matter where he or she lives. By giving the citizens of the District of Columbia a genuine vote in the House, we will ensure not only that their voices will finally be fully heard. We will be following the imperatives of our national democratic values.