House passes DC congressional voting rights bill

House passes DC congressional voting rights bill

[JURIST] The US House of Representatives [official website] passed the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act (HR 1905) [bill summary] Thursday, which could increase official House membership for the first time since 1960. The bill, which passed 241-177 [roll call], would make the District of Columbia [official website] a congressional district with full voting rights in the House, and as a compromise with Republicans, add a temporary at-large seat for Utah. Utah came close but fell short of obtaining a new district [PDF backgrounder] after the 2000 census. The future of the bill in the less Democratically-dominated Senate is far from certain, however, and President George W. Bush has 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." AP has more.