Archive for the 'fenty' Category

Senate Committee Passes DC Voting Rights Act

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

Earlier today the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs voted to send the DC Voting Rights Act to the full Senate. In addition to the Democrats on the Committee, GOP Senators Collins (ME), Coleman (MN), and Voinovich (OH) voted yes on the bill. It was unfortunate that our neighbor, Senator Warner of Virginia, chose not to listen to his House colleague, Representative Tom Davis, and voted against giving the District a vote.

I really liked what Senator Norm Coleman had to say. He spoke about his experiences as an urban mayor, and how things in his city were really affected by what the federal government did. He also said it was time to end the “paternal” relationship Congress has over the district, as it was not fair and just wrong. It’s nice to see a member of Congress draw from his or her own experiences and do what they think is right – that doesn’t happen as often as it should. I also have to give thanks to Senator Lieberman for leading this bill through the Senate and working to get today’s bi-partisan vote.

Today was a great day for DC voting rights, but there is still work to be done. The full Senate will vote on this bill later this summer and we still need to convince a few Senators that the time to give DC a vote is now! Please remember to tell your friends, family, and co-workers about – it only takes a few minutes.

Voting Rights March A Huge Success - Thousands Rally in the Rain!

Monday, April 16th, 2007
Voting Rights March

Despite the wind, cold, and rain thousands of people showed up today to march and demand a vote for the District of Columbia in the House of Represenatatives. We heard from Mayor Fenty, Chairman Gray, and Delegate Norton - all of whom gave fantastic speeches on the issue in front of a very enthusiastic crowd. The weather cut short the time for eloquent remarks that would have been made by the Shadow Delegation, but I’m not one to have people stand in the rain.

Afterward we had a nice reception in the Dirksen Senate Office Building hosted by Senator Lieberman. I used to intern for him back in 1989, so of course he remembered all the great work I did stuffing envelopes and answering phones. (Just kidding…but I did hang up on his wife in the first hour of my internship. Way to hit the ground running in DC!).

Senator Lieberman has been a huge champion on this issue and I know his leadership in the Senate will get this bill to the desk of the President. And if he doesn’t sign it, we’ll take to the streets again and march the other way on Pennsylvania Ave!

A tip of the hat to DC Vote and all their coalition partners in running such a smooth event. The people came out in force today, and it will make a difference.

Updated: Here is the Post article on the event:
Getting Out to Get a Vote
(PHOTO: IntangableArts)

DC Voting Rights Passes Judiciary. Next Stop the House Floor!

Thursday, March 15th, 2007

Great news from Capitol Hill today. The House Judiciary Committee passed the DC Voting Rights Act by a vote of 21-13. The bill is expected to go to the full floor sometime late next week. Most people, myself included, expect it to pass.

I was in the hearing room today during the mark-up, and it was entertaining to say the least. I have to take a minute to thank Representative Mike Pence (R-Ind.) who joined Democrats in voting for the bill. He also promised to help pass it in the full House.

According to the Washington Post, he told Delegate Norton his support was “heartfelt”. I know I speak for everyone in the District when we thank him for his vote and welcome his help for final passage. I hope people back in his district give him credit for this vote as well.

It’s been quite a week for this issue with a hearing and two successful markups from key committees. It took a lot of work from a lot of people to get us this far…but we are nowhere near having this thing signed, sealed, and delivered. When it passes the House, we still need to get it through the Senate and that’s gonna take work. You can help by taking two minutes and going to - send the link to your friends, add it to your email signature, and just get people to take action!

We’re almost there, let’s keep up the momentum.

Here’s the post article:

House Committee Passes D.C. Voting Bill

Speaking Truth to Power

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

An old boss of mine in the non-profit world used to use the expression a lot. I think it’s a very fitting expression for the coordinated efforts of the DC voting rights community today. My hat is off to DC Vote for coordinating the whole event, which I thought was great. I’ve worked on these “lobby days” before for other groups and when things go as smoothly as they did today, it’s because someone was sweating the details…and DC Vote did just that.

It was a great sight this morning as hundreds of people assembled in the Cannon Caucus room to hear introductory remarks from Mayor Fenty, Chairman Gray, and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. Dozens of people who work so hard on this issue were on Capitol Hill today lobbying in support of H.R. 328. It was cool to see the “real” Washington showing up to lobby the “official” Washington.

I captained a team of people today and we had a number of meetings with Congressional staff. We would brief them about the bill, ask if they had any questions and inquire about their boss’s stance if they knew it.
Our “asks” in these meeting were:

  • Can you help get it through the Judiciary Committee?
  • Would your boss like to co-sponsor the bill?

You never get firm commitments from staffers (they can’t speak for their boss if he/she hasn’t taken a stance yet) but we had a lot of positive signals in our meetings and I think we may have actually picked up a few co-sponsors today.

Overall, it was a very positive day and I think we moved the ball downfield on the issue.

Update: Here is the Post’s coverage:

Seeking A Vote On Vote For D.C.
Hundreds Gather To Persuade Lawmakers
Were you there? What was your impression of the day? Please comment below.

George F. Will on Voting Rights

Sunday, January 28th, 2007

Conservative columninst George F. Will wrote a piece in The Washington Post today about the recent move by the House of Representatives to give all the five territorial delegates in the body voting powers in the Committee of the Whole. Here’s a link to the op-ed:

Voting Rights Chicanery

The fact that he even cares about this re-affirms my fears about what would happen after the Democrats gave the delegates’ their votes back - it’s now being spun as a partisan power grab and the District of Columbia is lumped together with places like Guam and America Samoa in our struggle for voting rights.

Mr. Will should know that the courts have struck down his arguments before. As Vince Treacy was nice enough to summarize in an email to me:

“House Republicans filed suit in U.S. District Court in 1993, citing a violation of
the Constitution. But Judge Harold H. Greene ruled in favor of Norton and
the other delegates, saying their votes posed no constitutional problems
because they were ’symbolic’ and therefore ‘meaningless.’ That decision was
upheld on appeal.

The case was Michel v. Anderson, 817 F.Supp. 126, 141 D.D.C. 1993, affirmed
14 F.3d 623 D.C. Cir. 1994 - in case you want to review it yourself.

In his op-ed, Mr. Will also argues that:

“The 58,000 Samoans pay no federal income taxes, but their delegate will be able to participate in raising the taxes of, say, Montanans.”

That’s a bit of a stretch as the delegates can’t vote on final passage - and if their votes do make a difference, the vote can be done again without the delegates’ participation. Therefore a single vote from Guam or Puerto isn’t going to raise (or lower) taxes in the American heartland.

I do wonder what does Mr. Will thinks about the opposite of that situation. What would he say about the citizens of the District of Columbia who do pay federal taxes and are not represented with a real vote in Congress? By his own taxation/representation logic he surely can’t be in favor of that.

As I feared, this delegate vote is becoming a problem in terms of getting (and keeping) bi-partisan support for H.R. 328 - the bill that gives DC a real seat in Congress with an additional seat for Utah which was recently re-introduced by Congresswoman Norton. We need to keep focused on making sure that legislation keeps moving in this Congress. Let’s not get bogged down in this debate with the other Congressional delegates.

We deserve more as we pay Federal taxes and they don’t.

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