40% Would Give Residents to Md. Before Giving DC a Vote

House Rules Committee postpones hearing on voting rights

WASHINGTON -- The nation is divided over D.C. voting rights, but according to a recent poll, more U.S. voters are in favor of giving residential D.C. back to Maryland than giving the District a vote in Congress or leaving things the way they are.

According to the results of a Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey, 40 percent of respondents said making D.C. residents Maryland residents is the best idea. Twenty-six percent prefer the status quo, while 25 percent said D.C. deserves that vote in Congress. Nine percent weren't sure.

That means 44 percent of respondents who could muster an opinion would favor the amendment Sen. John Kyl, R-Ariz., introduced last week. Kyl argued the constitutionality of the voting rights bill, but his amendment was voted down 67-30.

Earlier last week, Sen. John McCain, also R-Ariz., called for a constitutional point of order questioning the legality of giving the District voting rights. Opponents of the bill argue that the Constitution states House members should be chosen by the people of the states, and the District, of course, is not a state. McCain's move failed 62-36.

A series of amendments have been introduced to derail the bill, including one that -- in the spirit of "no taxation without representation" -- suggested absolving D.C. residents of paying federal income taxes. That legislative witticism garnered seven yeas.

One amendment that did pass, however, could present a problem. It would strip the city of most its beloved gun-control laws.

The Senate OK'd the bill last week 61-37. The House could vote on it this week.

The House Rules Committee postponed a hearing on the bill Tuesday. D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, who would be that new voting member of the House if the bill passes and she wins re-election in 2010, said the hearing was postponed because a number of amendments including two gun amendments were offered at the last minute. 

D.C. Vote called the postponement an opportunity to mobilize against the gun laws amendment.

"Given the number of harmful amendments that were filed, we and our allies on the Hill had to re-group before proceeding to a vote in the House," said D.C. Vote Executive Director Ilir Zherka.

The D.C. Council planned a special meeting today to approve a resolution that would declare Council's opposition to the gun laws amendment.

The legislation also would give Republican-leaning Utah another seat in the House.

If the legislation passes, the U.S. Supreme Court could rule on its constitutionality.

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