In recent weeks, it has seemed as though almost everyone living in the District has been pushing for the city to finally receiving a voting representative in the U.S. Congress. A number of Georgetown groups have recently joined the effort.

The D.C. Fair and Equal House Voting Rights Act of 2007, which was proposed in the House on Jan. 9 by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), the District’s current representative and a Georgetown law professor, not only proposes to give full voting powers to the District’s House representative, but would also provide Utah an additional representative.

On campus, groups have been pushing for the passage of this bill and are launching initiatives to increase student activity and awareness of this issue.

Georgetown University Legislative Advocates, GU College Democrats, GU College Republicans and GUSA have been working together on a plan to promote student interest in D.C.’s voting rights.

“We are looking to mobilize students soon through a variety of means,” GULA Executive Director Amanda Huynh (SFS ’09) said. “[We are working on] providing a . letter and sending it to each student’s respective representative.”

Scott Fleming, assistant to the university president for federal relations, said that his office is working with the student groups to support the bill in several ways, including helping them compose letters to send to Congress.

JD Allman (COL ’09), president of the College Republicans, said that student organizations are working more visibly for D.C.’s voting rights this year because there seems to be more support from Georgetown’s student groups and faculty, including employees at the Federal Relations Office. He said that most of the efforts to lobby for the bill will be concentrated in the next two weeks.

Several members from these organizations plan to attend a rally Feb. 15 on Capitol Hill to support the bill.

Huynh added that GULA also hopes to work with other D.C. universities, such as the Georgetown Washington University, to expand the student effort to promote D.C.’s voting rights.

Ilir Zherka, executive director of DC Vote, which supports the bill, said that it is important for citizens to have both local and national voting delegates.

“The essence of American democracy is the ability to elect people and [have] . legislatures that make laws and make policies that affect people’s [lives],” Zherka said. “[This] has been missing in Washington, D.C. . for over 200 years.”

The House considered a similar bill last year, but the issue had to be reintroduced this year with the beginning of the 110th Congress.

Mark Rom, associate professor at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute, said that Congress controls matters in the District that states usually have the right to decide for themselves, such as the funding of specific health programs.

“The Congress gives orders to districts that they would never give to states,” Rom said.

Despite the support that many students have shown for a D.C. House vote, Murphy McHugh (COL ’07) said that he would rather see D.C. be given a seat in the Senate than a House representative.

“With one congressman, it’s not going to matter a whole lot more,” McHugh said. “[But having] even one senator will be powerful because that would be a swing vote . and D.C. will have a voice.”

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