- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 15, 2007

A couple hundred residents, a handful of elected officials and a 9-year-old girl rallied in support of D.C. congressional voting rights yesterday in advance of a march on the U.S. Capitol today that is expected to draw thousands to the cause.

“The patriotic plan is to pass the D.C. voting rights,” read Erin Sternlieb from a speech she wrote in her fourth-grade class last week at Murch Elementary School in Northwest.

Her mother, Linda Singer, is attorney general of the District. The two were among the crowd listening to voting rights speeches and performances yesterday at the Martin Luther King Library on G Street Northwest.

“We are the only democracy in the world where the capital city has no representation,” said D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray, a Democrat who served as master of ceremonies for the event.

“We are for a very important and wonderful cause,” said council member Carol Schwartz, at-large Republican, who was also in attendance. “I hope this Republican administration in the White House does what is right.”

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat and the District’s nonvoting congressional representative, said she has spoken to President Bush about representation for the District, and he told her “that he was going to give this a hard look.”

“This is the time we need to be on the streets,” she said.

Thousands of city residents are expected to join the march to support a bill that would give the District a full vote on the House floor.

The event is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m. at Freedom Plaza in Northwest.

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty is scheduled to lead marchers along Pennsylvania Avenue to the Reflecting Pool behind the Capitol, where he will host a rally at 4 p.m.

The rally will also serve to recognize Emancipation Day, a D.C. holiday commemorating President Abraham Lincoln’s freeing of 3,100 slaves in the District. D.C. government offices, schools and libraries will be closed, and parking restrictions will not be enforced.

But the focus of the event is to show support for the voting rights legislation pending in Congress.

The bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, Virginia Republican, seeks to add a seat in the House for the largely Democratic District, balanced out by another for Republican-heavy Utah, which narrowly missed an additional seat in the last census.

The bill appeared headed for passage on the House floor last month, but Republicans unexpectedly injected an attempt to repeal the city’s long-standing handgun ban, and Democratic leaders decided to put off the vote.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, said he intends to have the measure back on the House floor when legislators return this week.

The bill’s future is uncertain in the Senate, but even if it passes there, it would still face its biggest hurdle of all: the White House, where President Bush’s advisers have threatened to recommend a veto.

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