Killing DC Voting Rights With Dirty Tricks


Washington, DC is closer than it’s been in memory to finally gaining voting representation in Congress. The Senate version of a bill that would turn Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton into a voting member of the House passed an important legislative hurdle on Tuesday, when 62 members voted to close debate on the matter, clearing the way for a vote. (This is important because it means there aren’t enough nays to sustain a filibuster and, thus, a simple majority of 51 votes is all that’s needed to pass the bill.) The House version will sail through the chamber, likely next week.

But don’t count your votes yet, Chocolate City. As the WASHINGTON POST reports:

Opponents of a bill that would award the District its first seat in the House of Representatives fought back yesterday with a blitz of amendments in the Senate, including one to repeal the city’s gun-control laws that appeared to have significant support.

[snip] …

“Clearly, today, there’s been an orgy of amendments offered to the D.C. House Voting Rights Act, partially in an effort to derail the bill, but also people are using it as an opportunity to put their pet issue” on the Senate floor, said Ilir Zherka, executive director of DC Vote, an advocacy group.

He said the gun amendment “could be a big problem here.”

That amendment closely resembles a bill passed by the House but not the Senate last year. It alarmed D.C. officials by calling for the removal of almost all locally imposed gun-control rules.


This and any other “poison pill” amendment would also need only a simple majority to attach itself to the voting rights bill. Clearly, that would significantly complicate the broader measure’s passage. If you think that’s some mess, tell ’em so.

UPDATE: The Senate passed the bill, with the dirty-trick gun amendment attached, by a vote of 61 to 37. The House will take it up next week, without the gross gun rider. Then it’s up to negotiators to figure out how to get a clean bill to the president’s desk. So much for the GOP’s newfound obsession with passing bills without irrelevant add-ons.