- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 29, 2007

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty yesterday met with Bush administration officials on granting the District voting rights in the House, but the officials said they still plan to advise the president to veto the legislation.

“They did not move from that position. I think that they’re firm in that position,” Mr. Fenty said during a short press conference at the John A. Wilson Building after the meeting at the White House. “But it was a constructive meeting and I think there will be a continued dialogue on the matter.”

Mr. Fenty, a Democrat, and members of his legal team met with White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten for roughly 45 minutes yesterday afternoon to discuss the bill that would grant the predominately Democratic District a vote in the House.

The bill also would create an additional at-large seat for Utah, a state that leans Republican.

Mr. Fenty said his legal team presented arguments to Mr. Bolten for the bill’s constitutionality yesterday. And while the mayor acknowledged that the White House has not moved from its stance, he said he would continue to work for the bill’s passage and to avoid a presidential veto.

“I absolutely do believe that the president will not veto it,” Mr. Fenty said. “It’s up to us to make the case, and we will make the case.”

Mr. Fenty also said he requested to meet with Mr. Bush about the voting rights bill but was told that the chief of staff would represent the White House on the voting rights issue.

The measure — primarily sponsored by D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat, and Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, Virginia Republican — was opposed by Republican lawmakers, who delayed the bill’s likely passage last week through a parliamentary maneuver.

White House officials said on March 20 that Mr. Bush would be advised to veto the bill if it passed the House and Senate and came to his desk because “the bill violates the Constitution’s provisions governing the composition and election of the United States Congress.”

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, said this week that the voting rights bill will be brought back to the floor the week of April 16, when House lawmakers return from spring recess.

Mr. Fenty, Mrs. Norton and other D.C. officials have scheduled a voting rights march from Freedom Plaza to the Capitol on April 16.

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