WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., and Senators Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, introduced the D.C. House Voting Rights Act Tuesday, the first day of the 111th Congressional session, to provide equal voting representation to the citizens of the District of Columbia and the state of Utah.
Additional co-sponsors are Senators Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., Hilary Clinton, D-N.Y., Chris Dodd, D-Conn., Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., John Kerry, D-Mass., Russell Feingold, D-Wisc., and Richard Durbin, D-Ill. The bill provides full House representation for D.C. citizens, giving Delegate Norton the right to vote on the House floor, and creates a new Congressional district for Utah to reflect population growth based on data from the 2000 census. The bill’s effect will be to add two additional permanent seats to the U.S. House of Representatives, bringing the total number of House Members to 437, the first increase in 96 years. The Senate would not be affected.
Norton said: “We know from national polls that our bill has broad bi-partisan support from the American people, and we have every reason to believe that we will have the support this year of both houses of Congress and the new president. The residents of the District of Columbia could not be more fortunate that Sen. Lieberman and Sen. Hatch, our partners in the Senate, whose outstanding and dedicated leadership efforts almost prevailed last session, have continued to work closely with us. President-elect Barack Obama was a senate co-sponsor of the bill. I am very encouraged that with their help, we will see a history-making, bi-partisan increase in democracy for two jurisdictions and for our country.”
Lieberman said: “With a new Congress and a new President – who was a cosponsor of this bill himself last year – I am hopeful that we can pass this legislation vital to the rights of the nearly 600,000 Americans living in the District of Columbia. The righting of this historic wrong is long overdue. The people of the District have been the direct target of a terrorist attack but they have no vote on how the federal government provides for their homeland security. Men and women of the District have fought bravely in our wars, many giving their lives in defense of our country, yet they have no vote on the serious questions of war and peace. It is time to grant a vote to those citizens living in our nation’s capital so their voices can be rightfully heard as we debate the great issues of our time.”