White House promises veto of DC congressional voting rights bill

[JURIST] The Bush administration on Tuesday indicated it would veto HR 1433 [policy statement, PDF; HR 1433 text, PDF], a bill that would treat the Washington DC as its own Congressional district with voting rights. The policy statement said the bill would be unconstitutional, as the District of Columbia is not a state, and Article 1 [text], Section 2 of the US Constitution states, in part:

The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several states, and the electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislature.
The policy statement also indicates that a DC District Court upheld a similar interpretation of the Constitution in Adams v. Clinton [backgrounder], which was later affirmed by the Supreme Court.

The measure has been criticized by Republicans as a political maneuver to bring more Democratic votes into the House, and also as permitting representation without taxation, since citizens of the District of Columbia only pay federal income taxes. Advocates say the resolution promotes the legal inclusion of all Americans. Democrats pushed the same rule through during their last period of House control, from 1993 to 1995. Republicans then sued to overturn the rule, but it was affirmed on appeal. A report [text, PDF] by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) made public last month concluded that similar legislation was most likely unconstitutional. AP has more.

 

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