- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A bill that would give the District a vote in Congress has been delayed until after the November general elections.

The bill, introduced this year by Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, Virginia Republican, and D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat, also would give Utah, a primarily Republican state, an extra vote in the House.

The bill currently enjoys support from Republicans and Democrats.

However, continued bipartisan support hinges on the additional vote for Utah, officials say. That vote would be for an at-large seat until 2010 so that state officials would not have to redistrict before the next census.

But Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which controls the bill, has said he objects to having at-large seat.

Mr. Sensenbrenner, Wisconsin Republican, said he would be willing to move the bill from his committee to the House floor only if Utah agrees to redistrict immediately.

“Chairman Sensenbrenner is waiting for a final Utah redistricting plan before he intends to have the committee mark up this legislation,” the chairman’s spokesman, Jeff Lungren, told the Deseret News of Salt Lake City. “He has conveyed this position to Utah members of Congress and Governor [Jon] Huntsman.”

Mr. Hunstman, a Republican, has said he is willing to call the Utah state Senate into a special session after November’s general elections to develop a redistricting plan.

Utah currently has three congressional districts — two represented by Republicans and one by a Democrat. Because most Utah voters are registered Republicans, a fourth district likely would have a Republican representative.

The House and Senate will reconvene for two weeks after the general election.

If Utah develops its redistricting plan immediately after the election, the bill should make it to the floor for a vote in time for the House’s Nov. 18 “lame-duck” session, said Ilir Zherka, executive director of D.C. Vote.

“We’re hopeful that Utah will take up the four-seat map and that members of the Legislature will show restraint and hopefully pass a map that is viewed as fair,” Mr. Zherka said. “We are planning to work very hard with all of our allies in a lame-duck session to move this forward.”

A spokesman for Mr. Davis said Utah is now responsible for whether his bill passes.

“The word is out. Once Utah acts, which we are confident it will, this bill will clear the Judiciary Committee and go to the floor,” Davis spokesman Brian McNicoll said. “It’s best for Utah to address this itself first.”

Mrs. Norton said that she is confident the bill will move forward.

“We’ve got an approach that fully works for Democrats and Republicans, and that is all that anyone should ask of Utah or the District,” she said.

Most D.C. voters are registered Democrats.



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