Saturday, December 02, 2006

as the 4th district turns

In this episode, we will go more into the chances of U.S. Rep. Tom Davis' (R-NoVA) DC-Utah House seat bill. ex-Sen. ex-VP candidate Jack Kemp and Mr. Davis believe the bill still has a chance:
"No one in our leadership has indicated to me that this is not possible," [] Davis [] said [] Friday. "The stars are aligned. The time is now."
"There remains a strong possibility of enacting the DC Voting Rights Act during the lame duck session of Congress," Kemp said. "Conversations I have had with House and Senate leadership about the bill have been positive and encouraging."

"No one [told] me [it's] not possible" and "strong possibility" are not exactly ringing endorsements of the bill's chances. That sounds like much less than the 50% that some pundits (like UVA's Larry Sabbato) have given the bill. When the media asked the Democrat most interested in the bill, this is what D.C.'s delegate told the Tribune:
Eleanor Holmes Norton[] says incoming speaker Nancy Pelosi has promised her continuing support of the bill if the GOP doesn't take up the measure next week. Pelosi is a co-sponsor of the legislation.
It's unclear, however, whether Utah will still be part of the legislation under a Democratic-controlled Congress.

So it sounds like D.C. could get its vote early in January and Utah might get nothing until 2012. But that's OK with the Tribune, whose headline reads "Utah voters' case pales in comparison with D.C.'s:"
While Utah has three U.S. House members and two senators, the district's nearly 600,000 residents have no vote in Congress, which, in addition to its other powers, controls the district's budget and laws.
"The people of Utah have expressed outrage over the loss of one congressional seat for the last six years," Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. testified before a congressional committee in September. "I share their outrage. I can't imagine what it must be like for American citizens to have no representation at all for over 200 years."

There is some interesting history about DC's attempts to get a vote that I didn't know about either
In 1978, Congress sent the states another constitutional amendment that would allow the district to have a House member, but only 16 of the required 38 states ratified the change, and it expired in 1985.
The district also called a Constitutional Convention in 1980, a state constitution was drafted for "New Columbia," and it was submitted to be part of the union. But it was all for naught. The amendment didn't pass.

And of course, almost all of us know why nothing has happened in terms of D.C. getting Congressional voting rights:
Mark David Richards is a political sociologist who did his doctoral dissertation on the history of the District of Columbia. He says for much of the time the district has been seeking full voting rights, the opposition derived, at least in part, from racial undertones. Blacks make up 62 percent of the district's population, according to the 2000 census.
But now, Richards says, some of the opposition to granting the district voting rights is pure politics - if the city gained a House member or senators, there's little doubt the Democrat-filled city would elect only those with donkeys on their campaign signs.

With Democrats in control of Congress, I don't know why they don't try the Davis bill or something else that gives DC a vote. Retrocession the District (save the National Mall and other Federal buildings) back to Maryland would work, but Maryland doesn't want to deal with the mess that Congress has made of DC. Why not just pass a bill to allow D.C. voters to vote in MD's senate race and give DC a vote in the House. Under the constitution, Congress can do whatever the hell it wants within the 10 miles square of the District (Art I, Sec. 8, cl. 17).

I will keep on this story dear reader until the Davis bill fails or another DC bill is brought up in the 110th Congress.

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