- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 3, 2005


A bill introduced yesterday by Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, Virginia Republican, is called the District’s best chance to get voting rights on Capitol Hill.

The D.C. Fairness in Representation Act would allow the District’s congressional delegate to vote. In exchange, a temporary seat would give Utah another voting member.

Fellow House Republicans — including Reps. Chris Cannon and Rob Bishop of Utah — called the idea “creative” as they spoke in favor of the bill at a press conference.

Utah narrowly missed getting an extra member of Congress during the last census.

Mr. Davis said the measure helps get around the partisan issue of adding a Democratic member to the House by balancing it with a likely Republican.

He joked that this is one bill that can bring agreement between the heavily Republican state of Utah and the District, which leans in favor of Democrats.

Mr. Davis said the bill tries to take out the politics and focus on the issue.

“We’re all here for one reason: to correct an historic wrong,” he said. “We think this legislation is historic. It is fair. It is constitutional.”

Mr. Davis noted that when Alaska and Hawaii gained a congressional representatives in the 1950s, Congress temporarily expanded from 435 to 437 members.

Still, some Democrats who favor voting rights for the District criticized the Davis bill for taking a small step.

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat, introduced a bill granting full voting rights, including a voting House member and two senators.

But Mrs. Norton said she will support Mr. Davis’ bill if that is the one that can move through Congress this year.

D.C. Council members ended a meeting early to show their support on Capitol Hill, as did Mayor Anthony A. Williams, a Democrat.

“While we support full voting rights … this is an extremely important first step,” said D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp, at-large Democrat.

Mr. Davis said he expects to have a senator introduce similar legislation so the measure can pass this year.

“Momentum is building,” he said.

Former Rep. Jack Kemp, New York Republican, plans to ask former colleagues to support the bill, saying it is “a statement that Congress can make that the epicenter of the democratic ideal gets a vote.”

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