This Week’s Report: “D.C. Voting Rights”

by Colin Soloway, April 11, 2008

Should Washington citizens have a vote in Congress?

This November, in addition to electing a new president, Americans will vote for a third of the Senate and every member of the House. The 535 lawmakers in Congress represent the interests of 300 million citizens on vital issues from war and peace to taxes and spending. But the District’s 580,000 residents have no such representatives to vote their interests. Last year the House passed a bill to provide the District with a full vote in the House for the first time in 200 years, but a Republican filibuster blocked the measure in the Senate. Voting-rights advocates argue that there is no constitutional barrier to representation, while opponents insist the Framers clearly intended not to give the District a vote in Congress. In the final analysis, however, advocates blame party politics for Washington’s voteless status, saying Washington is heavily Democratic, and Republicans are loathe to giving them more muscle in Congress.

• Should the District of Columbia have voting representation in Congress?

• Does Congress have the power to grant the District a House seat?

• Are sectional and party politics blocking District voting rights?

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