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

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Voting Rights Clears a Hurdle.

The Washington Post reports that today is the day in the House. The Democrats have found a way to keep a gun control vote from happenning and a way to forestall amendments. I am not sure either strategy is good.

Allowing the gun ban to be attached to the legislation effectively moots the case going forward through the appeals process, which will prevent the Roberts Court from gutting the current meaning of the Second Amendment. It is likely that the GOP, upon realizing this, will request that this language be stricken from the bill in conference.

As to the GOP amendments, they should be allowed, as well as a vote on statehood and on allowing other options to grant full citizenship to residents of the District. These items will be debated in the Senate, where debate cannot be cut off. I see no reason for the House to squelch debate and let the Senate have all the fun. Of course, the die is now cast and the bill will likely pass out of the House. The real debate will occur in the other chamber (where DC has no representation). Does anyone else see how a full debate on these matters is better held there?

UPDATE: Both Bills have passed. Let's see what happens in the Senate or in conference. It would have been nice if the conference committee had the benefit of a full and vigrous debate in the House. Too late.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

D.C. residents absolutely deserve a vote in Congress.

FEDERAL TAXES: Like the rest of Americans, and unlike other territories like Guam, D.C. residents pay FEDERAL taxes. They actually pay the highest amount in taxes per capita in the nation. Can you imagine paying federal taxes, but having no vote on how your tax dollars are spent???

SOLDIERS IN WAR: Like the rest of Americans, and unlike other territories, D.C. residents have also fought and died in every American war stretching back to the War of 1812. Currently, they have no vote on whether or not their residents get sent to war. Think of screwed up that is alone.

DEMOCRACY: D.C. is the only capital of a democracy IN THE WORLD that is not allowed a vote in their national legislature. Even the people living in Baghdad can vote for a federal representative. In this case, Iraqis have more democracy than America.

CONSTITUTIONAL: The Constitution gives the Congress the power to do whatever it wants with the District. It’s called the “District Clause,” Article 1, Section 8: “To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District.” In 1800, Congress took away voting rights from D.C. using that power. That same power gives them the right to give it back. Conservative thinkers like Kenneth Starr (Clinton impeachment) and Viet Dihn (author of the Patriot Act) have come to the same conclusion. It is fair and will stand. A Constitutional amendment is unnecessary.

NO NET GAIN: Since Utah will also get an extra vote in Congress, there is no net gain for either party. This follows the tradition of introducing states like traditionally Democratic Hawaii and traditionally Republican Alaska at the same time.

FOREIGN POLICY: D.C.’s denial of voting representation has actually impacted America’s ability to carry out foreign policy. Rogue nations with poor human rights records argue that America cannot claim total innocence as they deny voting rights to the residents of their nation’s capital city. This has been an effective tool for countries with horrible records to continue their abuses.

I realize that it is a lot to swallow. But truly, it is time to give the residents of America’s capital the right to vote in Congress.

April 20, 2007 5:11 PM  
Blogger Michael Bindner said...

I am all for the citizens of the nation's capital having full voting rights, which would include voting rights in the Senate. The best way for this to occur is statehood. In the interim, however, they could be procured through Maryland. Some think that this would lead to retrocession. I disagree, as the Maryland Republican Party would soon see that it would be as dead as the DC Republicans if the District were fully integrated.

Anyway, the point of my article was not to say that the District should not have voting rights, but that, since this is the only bite of the apple you are likely to get this Congress, it would be advantageous to discuss ALL of the options for both voting rights and self determination, including and especially amending the Home Rule Charter to require that congressional amendments to it be voted on by District voters.

April 21, 2007 8:22 PM  

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