Lieberman Says Full Voting Rights For DC Is “Right”

WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., Thursday joined D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton in a renewed push for equal voting representation for the 600,000 citizens of the District of Columbia. Lieberman and Norton – encouraged by a new poll showing that 82 percent of Americans believe D.C. residents should have a voting representative in Congress – have introduced The No Taxation Without Representation Act of 2005 in their respective houses.

“It is almost incomprehensible that in this day and age that ours is the only democracy in the world in which citizens of the capital city are not represented in the national legislature,” Lieberman said. “This injustice is felt directly by District residents but it also casts a shadow over the democratic traditions of the entire nation. The right to vote is a civic entitlement of every American citizen. It is democracy’s most essential right. It is the ultimate guarantor of our freedom and the enabler of our best hopes for the future.” Lieberman said he would actively try to persuade his Republican colleagues of the merits of the legislation and expressed hope that the impending elections in Iraq, combined with the President’s recent inaugural speech on American freedoms, would bolster his case. “We’re right and what we’re doing is quintessentially American,” Lieberman said. Republicans “have to see the injustice in this. We need to take this above anyone’s political prediction of which party will win seats in the election… To paraphrase the late anthropologist Margaret Mead, never underestimate the capacity of a small group of committed people to change the world.” Co-sponsors of the Senate legislation (S.195) include Senators Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., Mark Dayton, D-Minn., Jon Corzine, D-N.J., Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., Barack Obama, D-Ill., Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., Minority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and John Kerry, D-Mass. This week, the advocacy group D.C. vote announced the results of a new poll showing that 78 percent of Americans didn’t know D.C. residents had no voting representation in Congress and 82 percent said D.C. residents should have equal representation. The group is launching a campaign to educate the nation about D.C.’s disenfranchisement. “I am proud to be the chief Senate sponsor of the No Taxation Without Representation Act of 2005, because this bill would make us the fully representative democracy we claim to be,” Lieberman said. “Citizens of the District pay taxes, serve their fellow citizens here at home, and serve and die in war—yet are denied the opportunity to choose voting representatives in the legislature which governs them and the rest of America. To put it in particularly sharp relief, the city, more than most, lives under the near constant threat of terrorism, and has been inconvenienced because of it—but as we in the Congress debate and vote on policies to protect our country, citizens of the District have no one who can cast a vote.” In May 2002, when he was Chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee, Lieberman held the first hearing since 1994 on this issue. The Committee reported out similar legislation to the bill introduced by Lieberman on Wednesday. However, it never was considered by the full Senate floor.