September 18th, 2007
05:39 PM ET
11 years ago

DC voting bill blocked in the Senate

Supporters of D.C. voting rights were on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – The DC Voting Rights Bill failed to get the 60 votes needed in the Senate to reach cloture and move toward a vote Tuesday.

The bill would have given the District of Columbia the right to a representative in Congress with full voting rights. The District currently has an elected delegate who does not have the right to vote on legislation that comes to the floor of the House of Representatives, but can sometimes vote for legislation when it is considered at the committee level.

Supporters of the bill, including D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, claimed disenfranchisement for the nearly 600,000 residents of the city.

"Not since segregation has the Senate blocked a voting rights bill,” Fenty told a crowd during a rally, “and this is a voting rights bill."

Those against the bill argued the bill violated the constitution because the right to vote can only be given to citizens of states. Others feared that the bill would give the District a pathway toward gaining two seats in the Senate.

President Bush had threatened to veto the bill had it passed in the Senate.

- CNN Ticker Producer Xuan Thai

Filed under: Political
soundoff (31 Responses)


    September 18, 2007 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  2. Jeff from New Jersey

    This is just another example as to how far back the Republicans have set this country,our freedoms and our constitution.DISGRACEFUL AND DISGUSTING!

    If I lived in Washington DC that would be cause to exempt me from any taxes since it is taxation without representation.Having a representative that can't vote is the same as having none at all.They should ALL withold payment of ALL taxes,including the income tax!

    September 18, 2007 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  3. Karl Rove, Crawford Texas

    so do the 600,000 people that live in D.C. not count?

    stupid stupid stupid...

    September 18, 2007 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  4. James, Phoenix AZ

    Yeah – let's just throw away the Constitution. We'll have senators from DC, Guam, US Virgin Islands, Gitmo, heck... any other territory want to throw in a few representatives??

    September 18, 2007 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  5. Robert Marley, Jamaica NY

    Not shocking at all! Maybe if DC would have agreed to change their unconstitutional gun laws (instead of filing a cert. petition earlier this month), the result would have been different.

    Fenty is better than Mayor crackhead, but sometimes he says/does things that make me wonder.

    September 18, 2007 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  6. Eric, Washington DC

    How dare you try to call DC residents non-Americans. DC residents are the ones working security on Capitol Hill keeping our elected representatives safe, waiting on well-fed lobbyists and officials at Washington restaurants, and making hotel beds for tourists who bring in billions of dollars of national revenue per year.

    The only reason that DC doesn't have representation is because it would mean two more democratic senators and one more democratic congressman, and so congressional republicans have decided to disenfranchise one of the largest black communities in America because they're afraid of losing more ground.

    I am appalled as a DC resident that we are not represented in our federal government. Taxation without representation!

    September 18, 2007 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  7. Dennis Castanares, Los Angeles, CA

    Right. It's surely just coincidence that the District of Columbia is overwhelmingly Democratic, and that enfranchisement would add to the power of that party. Surely it's just that President Bush, that eminent legal scholar, is standing up for adherence to the strict construction of the Constitution. God forbid these decisions should be made for petty partisan reasons!
    By the way, CNN, "the Constitution" is a proper noun and should be capitalized.

    September 18, 2007 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  8. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    DC is not ready for political prime time. Any legislative effort must provide for immediate Supreme Court review, or else the Constitutional amendment process should be used.

    September 18, 2007 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  9. Lynn, Reno NV

    I do not understand how we can believe in democracy yet not give people the right to vote. It is shameful... Republicans hear that? Shameful.

    September 18, 2007 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  10. Kanawah, Fairfield, Oh

    I would like to see DC get a vote, but not at the expense of another Utah vote.

    The obstructionist occasionally serve a purpose.

    September 18, 2007 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  11. Craig, Washington DC

    are you serious James? Anyone who has to abide by the laws of this country should have representation.

    September 18, 2007 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  12. Jeff from Jersey

    Better idea.Let's just throw out the Representatives from Arizona to make room for real representatives from DC.After all it's not like DC isn't in the continental US.Heck,you can even have the ones from Jersey.They're all going to be idicted sooner or later anyway,but then you'll have to deal with some real life Soprano types and be "sleeping with Hoffa".

    It wasn't all that long ago that Arizona was just a territory.Maybe we should reconsider Arizona's statehood if this and Goldwater is the best they can do.

    September 18, 2007 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  13. Matt, Chico, CA

    If they want to be represented maybe they should move out of the crime-ridden, gun-banning District of Columbia

    September 18, 2007 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  14. Christian, Tampa FL

    Why should the voices of 600,000 people in our nation's capital not be heard? It's time for our capital city to have a voice in Congress.
    I cannot understand why there can't be bipartisan support for this otherwise obvious measure.

    September 18, 2007 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  15. Mike, Milwaukee, WI

    Let's see i wonder why DC cannot have a voting representative....

    1. The fact that the city is over 60% African-American comes to mind!

    These people have to pay taxes, register for the draft and everything else just like normal Americans but cannot be fully represented in Congress by a voting delegate. Gotta love America!

    September 18, 2007 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  16. Ike, Fairbanks, AK (& South Korea)

    Article 1.
    Section 2. The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several states, and the electors in each state shall . . .

    Amendment XVII
    The Senate of the United States shall be composed of
    two Senators from each state, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote

    I don't see how D.C. residents can get the vote without (1) amending the Constitution (which isn't going to happen) or (2) somehow granting statehood to D.C. (which seems even more unlikely). The Constitution is pretty clear on those issues.

    Anyway, if these people really want representation, why don't they vote with their feet. Maryland is not that far.

    September 18, 2007 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  17. Dan (Columbia, MD)

    Nicely stated, James.

    If the founding fathers wanted DC to have voting rights they would have given it to them.

    News flash to the Dems – the Constitution is not a living document that you can change on a whim so you can push your socialist agenda.

    September 18, 2007 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  18. Mason, Franconia, Va

    You're a bit mistaken, James. The bill in question has no affect on the Senate, but rather the House. Regaring your charge that it's unconstitutional – that depends who you ask. Ken Starr thinks that Article I, Section 8 makes a strong case for it ("To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States..."). Others, such as the White House, and at least 41 Senators feel that Article I, Section 1 trumps. While I think it would be better to just pass it and let the courts hash it out, you and others who believe the latter should push for DC statehood. Enfranchising five hundred thousand fellow citizens would seem to be a noble cause, wouldn't it? Next time you're in the District, I'd suggest you take a gander at the plates on the back of nearly every single vehicle.

    September 19, 2007 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  19. Anonymous

    In their argument for not letting DC voters vote, the Republicans managed to tell the truth once. It will give the advantage to the Democratic Party. Instead of dicing and slicing words in the Constitution, they could just do the right thing.

    September 19, 2007 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  20. Coach Haughton

    Yeah – let's just throw away the Constitution. We'll have senators from DC, Guam, US Virgin Islands, Gitmo, heck… any other territory want to throw in a few representatives??

    I respond.
    People in the Virgin Islands and Guam don't pay taxes.
    "no taxation without representation".
    How did this place called America come about again?

    September 19, 2007 02:09 am at 2:09 am |
  21. S. B. Stein E.B. NJ

    The residents have no voting representative in the House. I am would point out that in most functions, the District of Columbia is a state. The other locations mentioned by the James haven't made any clear moves for full representatives in Congress. I would hope that D.C. would get their request heard by the rest of the country.

    September 19, 2007 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  22. Marcus Frey - Frederick, MD

    This is why our founding fathers dared to provoke war with Great Britain – Taxation without representation. There's a reason DC residents have that statement featured on its standard-issue license plate.

    DC has the same number of residents as Alaska or North Dakota, but those residents are unable to decide on how funds for road repairs, improvements to education, and police forces will be spent. The Constitution is "violated" either way. DC residents should be allowed to have representative(s) in Congress with full voting rights.

    September 19, 2007 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  23. Andrew

    Why doesn't the US Congress pass a law similar to many other countries (including Russia and China had) which restricts rights of citizens to live in the CAPITAL. Problem is Washington DC is highly SEGREGATED, which causes far more attention by our U.S. Government to problems and special privileges for African Americans. Our US Government and its research and spin on statistics is always more focused on programs to help that one group, because so many of the Fed. Govern. Employees are from that group.

    Thus the wisdom of China and many other countries restricting right to live in their nation's Capital, by proportional representation and to those who have jobs there.

    Its time USA De-Segregated Wash. D.C.

    September 19, 2007 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  24. James, Phoenix AZ

    To all the whiners:

    Please read the post from

    Posted By Ike, Fairbanks, AK (& South Korea) : September 18, 2007 10:41 pm

    Thank you Ike for bringing into the debate the actual words from our Constitution.

    Stop your whining people. If you don't like it – tell your leaders to change the Constitution (yeah – that will go over real big during this next election!)

    September 19, 2007 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  25. Alice Newman Center Harbor NH

    Note that those who are quick to quote the Constitution are often from the party that tends to ignore its provisions on many other issues.

    I thought the GOP was a party of "up or down" vote – or is that just when the have the majority or on their own issues? I remember Tom DeLay shouting "up or down Vote!" ... now they won't even allow the bill to come up for discussion.

    If DC could guarantee a GOP seat, the GOP would be more inclined to let citizens in DC vote. They surely worked hard enough to keep the GOP seat held by Foley in FL and Vitter's seat in LA.

    September 19, 2007 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
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