The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee approved the DC Voting Rights Bill (S 1257) yesterday in a 9 to 1 vote. The legislation, which passed the House in April, will now go the full Senate for a vote. If the bill is passed and signed into law by President Bush, it will add two seats to the House of Representatives: one for the heavily Democratic District of Columbia and one for Utah, a dominantly Republican state. Still, DC would not be granted any voting members in the Senate.
While the additional seat for Utah was a sufficient bi-partisan compromise in the House, the bill’s sponsors, including the District’s non-voting delegate in Congress, Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), and Rep. Thomas M. Davis (R-VA), said that additional bi-partisan deals may be necessary to win passage in the Senate. Republican supporter Susan Collins (ME) introduced two amendments to the bill yesterday — one to provide expedited judicial review and the other to clarify that DC will not have senators — to bolster support from Republicans.
Supporters are concerned that the bill only has the definite support of 50 Senators, which does not guarantee its success. The bill is expected to go before the Senate in July.