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US Senate kills DC congressional voting rights bill

[JURIST] The US Senate [official website] voted Tuesday 57-42 [roll call] against proceeding with debate on the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act [S. 1257 bill summary], killing the bill before it reached Senate consideration by falling three votes short of the 60 necessary to move forward. The bill, which easily passed [JURIST report] in the House in April, would have made the District of Columbia [official website] a congressional district with full voting rights in the House. As a compromise with Republicans, the bill would also have added a temporary at-large seat for Utah. Utah came close but fell short of obtaining a new district [CPPA backgrounder, PDF] after the 2000 census. Passage of the bill in the Senate was uncertain, however, and President George W. Bush had already threatened a veto [JURIST report], calling the bill unconstitutional.

The District of Columbia currently has a delegate in the House, Eleanor Holmes Norton [official website], who is able to vote in committee and on some amendments, but is not allowed to vote on the final passage of a bill. A February report by the Congressional Research Service flagged the potential unconstitutionality [JURIST report] of any bill granting a House vote for the District, focusing on the language in Article I, Section 2, Clause 1 of the Constitution that the House is to be comprised by the "people of the several States." The Washington Post has more.

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