Thursday, February 26, 2009

Legislation to give the District full voting rights in the U.S. House of Representatives a major attack Wednesday by Republican senators .

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, tried unsuccessfully to kill the legislation by calling for a constitutional point of order to question the legality of granting the District voting rights. The move, however, failed 62-36.

“I’m concerned this bill is more a product of politics than principle,” Mr. McCain said.

Other senators filed amendments throughout the day to kill the legislation, including one by Sen. John Ensign, Nevada Republican.

Mr. Ensign’s amendment would drastically reduce the District’s strict gun laws, which could result in Senate Democrats withholding their support for voting rights legislation for the District.

The voting rights bill’s chief sponsor, Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent, spent most of the day on the Senate floor, defending legislation that would give the District representation for the first time in years.

“This may be political horse trading, but this legislation achieves a just result,” Mr. Lieberman said.

Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, tried to tack on an amendment that would eliminate federal income taxes for District residents. And Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican, attached an amendment that would prevent the Federal Communications Commission from reinstating the Fairness Doctrine, a policy instituted in 1949 that required broadcasters to air both sides of controversial issues.

Mr. DeMint and Mr. Ensign’s amendments had not received a vote as of Wednesday night, but will likely be voted on Thursday.

The legislation survived a key Senate vote Tuesday, when lawmakers vote 62-34 to begin formal debates.

The House and Senate bills essentially would add two seats to the House - one from the overwhelmingly Democratic District and one from Republican-leaning Utah.

Utah now has one Democratic representative and two Republicans in the House and is the next to receive a new seat based on the 2000 census.

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