Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) revived the District’s controversial bid to end “taxation without representation” last week, reintroducing a bill that would give the District its first voting seat in the House of Representatives and Utah its fourth, raising the number of U.S. Representatives from 435 to 437.

First introduced in April 2007, the bill passed the House of Representatives by 64 votes. In the Senate, however, a motion for a final vote on the bill was withdrawn after a filibuster led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

In 2007, the House bill received 219 of its 241 yes votes from Democratic representatives and 171 of its 177 no votes from Republicans. Additionally, the Senate voted 57-42 in favor of a final vote, before the 2007 filibuster, suggesting strong support for the bill, according to the U.S. Senate’s legislation and records department and activist group DC Vote.

In the 2009 vote, under a more Democratic 111th Congress, the bill is likely to pass again in the House and might encounter less resistance in the Senate.

Supporters of the D.C. Voting Rights Act are confident in both the fairness of the bill and its chances of passing.

“The Congress is considering issues of national importance that affect the District of Columbia, and D.C. residents need to have a voice on these issues,” Ilir Zherka, executive director of DC Vote, said.

“Issues like the stimulus plan, the healthcare reform bill . Washingtonians will not have a direct influence on these issues [if the D.C. Voting Rights Act is not passed],” Zherka said.

Zherka expects the current Senate will be more receptive to the bill than the 2007 Senate. Zherka said at least seven senators who had opposed the act were replaced by Democrats in the November election.

“We’re making an assumption that we’ll be supported by most of those Democrats. With their support, we’ll have at least 60 votes, and enough to prevent filibusters,” he said.

Zherka added that President-elect Barack Obama, who co-sponsored the bill in the Senate in 2007, is a much likelier supporter for the bill than President George W. Bush.

Fitz Lufkin (COL ’11), vice president of GU College Democrats, expressed similar enthusiasm for the revival of the bill.

“It’s been an issue for a long time, and it’s failed many times, but I think with the sweeping Democratic victory in the last election, now is as good a time as any to pass this,” he said. “Frankly, it’s pretty unfair and undemocratic and un-American, that 600,000 people should not have representation in the United States Congress.”

Lufkin said College Democrats plans to assist in the passing of the bill, likely through lobbying efforts.

Paul Courtney (COL ’11), chairman of GU College Republicans, said, “College Republicans has no position on the D.C. Voting Rights Act.”

But he said he viewed the act as the wrong way to go about gaining representation for the District.]

“The Constitution clearly states that representation is to be granted to the states, . D.C. is not a state. . The best solution to the D.C. voting rights issue lies in Constitutional amendment.”

Supporters of the bill say it offers a voice not only to permanent residents of the District, but also to D.C. students.

“Georgetown students are affected by what happens in this city: whether this city has enough resources to deal with its water issues, and homelessness and education issues,” Zherka said. “I think Hoyas, as well as D.C.’s [permanent] residents, want to have a say in those issues.”

Zherka added that since most Georgetown students claim permanent residence outside of the District, they have the congressional representation that other District residents lack and are thus in a unique position to influence the outcome of the bill.

Lufkin said congressional representation in the District is important to D.C. students as well.

“The District of Columbia doesn’t have home rule . at the end of the day, it doesn’t control its own destiny. The bill could definitely help [Georgetown students] in terms of neighborhood issues, getting funded, in a practical sense,” he said.

“This is a monumental step toward a full democracy for Washingtonians . local democracy and local control over issues, and ultimately representation in the Senate as well,” Zherka said.

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