The main reason to oppose the D.C. Voting Rights Act (H.R. 328), which would give Washington, D.C., a voting representative in the House in exchange for an additional House seat representing Utah, is that the proposed legislation is unconstitutional.

Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution specifically states that “the House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several states.” The 23rd Amendment to the Constitution states that the District of Columbia is not a state.

The Constitution provides only two means by which the District could be provided with a voting representative in the House of Representatives. Article IV provides that new states may be admitted by the Congress. Statehood conferred in this way would automatically entitle the District to a member in the House and two senators. A new constitutional amendment could give the District a vote in the House without its becoming a state.

The 23rd Amendment gave the District electoral votes in elections for president and vice president without making it a state. In 1978, Congress passed a constitutional amendment to grant the District a representative and two senators because it determined a statute couldn’t do it. The amendment failed when only 16 states ratified it within seven years.

In 1911, the size of the House of Representatives was fixed at 433, providing that two more seats would be added for Arizona and New Mexico when they became states.

It appears that playing politics is precisely what the principle sponsors of this legislation, Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), are doing – wasting everyone’s time on legislation that they know will fail.

C.D. Ward

Arlington, Va.

Feb. 13, 2007

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