Michael Bindner's DC Blog

In this blog, I discuss DC politics and other issues of import to local government. I have posted several essays from my book, Musings from the Christian Left, on blog entreies dated June 2004.

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Location: Alexandria, Virginia, United States

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Clock is Ticking on Voting Rights

It today's Post, it is reported that incoming Speaker is backpedaling on her opposition to the Davis Bill, since it might put Jim Matheson's seat in danger.

She offered instead the largely ceremonial vote in the Committee of the Whole (that could be undone for margins where it actually means something). After a firestorm of calls on a radio call-in show, she stated that if Matheson's seat is assured, she might go along. Congresswoman Norton's remarks in the article about the clock runing out seem to be designed to lower expectations (or deflect blame) should the session end without any action.

As many opponents have said, this bill does not go far enough, because it ignores voting rights in the Senate. Unless 9 votes can be found to end debate, voting rights in the Senate in any other manner than through Maryland look like a non-starter. Of course, the danger is that if senatorial representation is dealt with, it may take the sails out of the movement.

I don't think so, as there is always another congressional outrage on the horizon. Given the baseball stadium deal, deficits and a renewed Control Board are but a bad check away. Additionally, if and when the District is enfranchised in Maryland Senate races, the Republicans can about kiss any GOP candidacy goodbye. Out and out retrocession would seal that fate in all races, so you know that is never going to happen. It is more likely that the Maryland GOP would become statehood's strongest advocates if the alternative were to be forever locked out of the Senate.

There is another way that Senate voting rights might pass. If Statehood were enacted along with voting rights for the residents of the National Capital Service Area, you would have three new electoral votes for New Columbia, two Democratic Senators, one Democratic Representative and three existing electoral votes for the residents of D.C.'s military bases, along with two likely Republican Senators and a Republican representative. In this case, there is no need to mess with Utah.

Of course, this is never going to pass. For many, statehood is not really about justice, but about advantage for the Democratic Party. If that is the case, the cause is not deserving.

The Rohrbacher Bill seems to be the best hope for full represenation, at least for now. The key question is, will this be available to vote on this month?


Anonymous Vince Treacy said...

I see at least three problems with Rohrabacher's bill.

First, it is just a law, not a Constitutional Amendment, admission of a State, or retrocession to a State. It could be repealed at any time in the future, leaving an implied threat hanging over the District.

Second, it leaves the District Clause intact, authorizing continued Congressional interference in the affairs of the District, including the Charter.

Third, it is unprecedented. Nothing like this has ever been done to the House and Senate, so it is sure to draw a court challenge.

Amendment, admission, or retrocession do not have these problems. The Constitution has been amended, new States have been admitted, and part of D.C. was in fact retroceded to Virginia. These measures are final -- there can be no turning back.

These issue should be considered. On balance, it is better than Davis-Norton, and may be worth adopting even with its drawbacks.

November 12, 2006 10:54 AM  

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