With the inauguration of Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress coming up soon, it’s looking increasingly likely that the District of Columbia will finally get a voting member in the House of Representatives:
Under a measure that passed the House by a wide margin last year, [DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes] Norton would receive a vote in the House on behalf of the District’s nearly 600,000 residents. The bill also would give Utah an additional House member, bringing the total in the House to 437.
The bill fell to a Republican-led filibuster in the Senate on a 57-42 vote, but this year’s Democratic pick-ups seem likely to assure its passage if it returns to the floor. All seven Republicans who were replaced by Democrats voted against the measure.
President-elect Barack Obama co-sponsored the Senate bill and would be expected to sign the measure into law.
Norton, who co-sponsored last year’s measure, says she will reintroduce it sometime in the next session of Congress, although the timing has yet to be decided.
First, I’m glad to see the residents of DC getting a vote in Congress–America was founded on the idea of no taxation without representation, and it’s a travesty of democracy that the nearly 600,000 residents of DC have no voice in Congress.
Second, though, I disagree with giving Utah an extra Representative. I understand that it’s a political calculation meant to win Republican support, since that Utah seat would–in all likelihood–become a solidly-Republican district. But such a political concession shouldn’t have to be made; the residents of DC deserve a vote, plain and simple. Those people in Utah who would make up that new district already have representation, while the residents of DC don’t. Republicans should support giving DC a seat out of principled respect for democracy, not because they also get another seat out of the deal.
Still, this is a good development. Now, if DC could only get a pair of Senators…