It looks like citizens of the District of Columbia won’t garner congressional representation any time soon. Though a bill that would grant a vote to D.C. in Congress has stalled once again, we believe D.C. should continue to work toward this objective. But the plan of attack should change.

Many anticipated that this would be the year in which District residents would finally find a voice in Congress. The push for voting rights received new life following President Obama’s election in 2008.

The newfound hope, however, proved too good to be true. On Wednesday, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced that Congress will not move ahead with the bill to provide D.C. with a voting delegate in the House of Representatives. Residents of the District deserve representation in the House like all citizens, and the apparent abandonment of the voting rights initiative is upsetting.

Americans living in D.C. bear the burden of full citizenship. They pay taxes and serve in the armed forces. Despite this, they do not carry the same weight in Congress. Although D.C. can elect a representative to the House who can speak on the floor and serve on committees, he or she cannot officially vote on legislation.

The current initiative to close that voting disparity recalls the groundswell that led to the 1961 ratification of the 23rd Amendment to the Constitution. Until that amendment passed, D.C. did not have the ability to appoint delegates to the Electoral College.

History, then, has demonstrated that perseverance produces results. With that said, the voting rights statute in its present form may not be the best path to success. Those who oppose the statute argue that it contradicts clauses in the Constitution that clearly reserve the right to vote in the House to states. Moreover, opponents point out, the Constitution specifically refers to D.C. as a district, not a state.

Because of these constitutional uncertainties, a more prudent approach would be to follow the example of those who lobbied for the 23rd Amendment. Supporters of a D.C. vote in Congress should refocus their efforts on pushing for a new amendment that grants the District full representation in the House.

The derailment of the voting rights bill should not signal the end of the voting rights campaign. Rather, it should be the spark that ignites a new push for a permanent – and undeniably constitutional – remedy to an unacceptable voting rights gap.

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