There are many valid reasons to provide Washington, D.C. with voting representation in Congress, but for members of the Georgetown community, the most important is that such representation would be good for Georgetown University. The District of Columbia’s – and Georgetown’s – voice in Congress is limited to a delegate in the House of Representatives, Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), who cannot vote on the final passage of any legislation. The District receives no representation in the Senate. But a bipartisan bill currently before Congress could change that. The bill, H.R. 238, would replace D.C.’s delegate with a voting representative. The bill includes a compromise to ensure that the balance of Democrats and Republicans remains stable – Utah would also be given an additional seat in the House under the bill. Because of population changes over the last few years, it is nearly certain that after the next census, Utah would gain an additional seat. Effectively, this bill gives Utah the seat a few years early to ensure that partisanship will not get in the way of D.C.’s representation. Inevitably members of Congress are not only influenced by voting constituents, but also institutions like businesses and employers in their district. If Georgetown University were located in a congressional district, it would have a loud voice as a major educational institution. The university would have little trouble getting the attention of the representative or senator representing it in Congress. Congress funds programs and writes regulations that that affect the day-to-day operation of universities. Georgetown has talented staff working on federal relations issues, and D.C.’s delegate works hard to represent Georgetown and all of her constituents. Still, Georgetown would be better represented by a member of the House of Representatives who can actually vote and has an equal footing will all other members of Congress. In a letter to congressional leaders sent earlier this month, President John J. DeGioia points out that the enactment of the D.C. voting rights bill would, “give Georgetown and other Washington, D.C. colleges and universities a voting representative in the House of Representatives, a resource enjoyed by other post-secondary institutions.” Bills similar to the one currently before Congress have been introduced before, but the present bill stands a much better chance of actually passing. Georgetown students who vote in their home states can make a meaningful difference in the passage of this legislation. Students should call or e-mail their representatives and tell them that D.C. deserves real representation in Congress. Georgetown students are in a unique position – they have a vested interested in D.C. representation and most of them also have representatives who will decide the issue. Students need to use this advantage to help themselves and all D.C. citizens.

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