Senate Committee Approves DC Voting Rights

June 13, 2007
Senate Committee Approves D.C. Voting Rights Bill

Mary Beth Sheridan, Washington Post - June 13, 2007

The D.C. voting rights bill has won another victory. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved the legislation this morning by a vote of 9 to 1.

Virginia's Sen. John W. Warner (R), cast the dissenting vote, but in an encouraging sign for advocates, three Republicans voted in favor of giving the District a full voting member in the House: Susan Collins of Maine, George V. Voinovich of Ohio and Norm Coleman of Minnesota.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton:

Norton Says Senate Markup Means D.C.-Utah Twins Could Be Born Soon

Washington, DC--As Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) left today's Senate markup of the D.C.-Utah voting rights bill, she said, "The standing ovation in the room after the bill passed 9-1 said it all -- we're almost there." Norton praised Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) for "speeding the bill to mark-up with great urgency, determination and dedication." The Congresswoman, who also worked with Ranking Member Susan Collins (R-ME) on amendments Collins was considering, said that an amendment providing for expedited judicial review was acceptable in its present form, considering that Norton believes that a three-judge federal court with direct appeal to the Supreme Court would probably be required in any case. An additional Collins amendment clarifies what the bill already says -- that this bill pertains only to a House seat and not to the Senate, where each state is represented by two senators.

"There are three stages in the gestation or incubation of a bill -- introduction, mark-up, and passage," Norton said. "Considering the recent meeting with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and his commitment to schedule floor time, tit's not too much to say that this bill is in the seventh month, healthy and soon to be born, if all continues to go well. Sen. Collins' statement at the markup that she was impressed with Sen. Orrin Hatch's (R-UT) view that the bill is constitutional was especially important," Norton said. She also was especially pleased that Senators George Voinovich (R-OH) and Norm Coleman (R-MN) joined with Ranking Member Collins, as the other two Republicans who voted in favor of the bill. However, Norton said she was surprised that the lone no vote of senators who were present was cast by Senator John Warner (R-VA), a good friend of the District and of the Congresswoman. Warner is often considered a bipartisan moderate. However, with three Republicans joining the two senators from Utah, there are now a definite five Republican senators who will vote on the floor for the legislation, and Congresswoman Norton believes that there are more who will now join them and vote for the bill.