Hatch Vows to Block DC Vote

Utah senator won't agree to deal for 2 new house seats

Advocates of D.C. voting rights are hopeful again as congressional leaders have announced plans to resurrect the voting rights bill in the House next week, but even as final details are being worked out, opponents are gearing up for a renewed fight.

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said he will block the bill that would give D.C. a voting member in Congress if lawmakers don't
change a provision that would also give Utah an extra seat in the House, according to the Associated Press.

Hatch said he doesn't like the way the House bill would elect the new member, which would be Utah’s fourth. The measure would let all Utah citizens vote. Hatch said only citizens who live in the newly-created district should get to chose their representative. So he’s vowing a filibuster if the bill reaches the Senate unchanged, according to a statement on his Web site.

The bill would give heavily-democratic DC one seat and give Republican-leaning Utah one temporary seat. That seat would later go the state next in line for a representative based on results of the 2010 Census.

Meanwhile, voting rights advocates already face opposition from city leaders who oppose an amendment that eliminates most of the District’s gun-control laws. Last year, the Senate passed the first voting rights bill since 1978, but lawmakers included language that kills most of the city’s gun laws and limits the D.C. Council’s power to pass new laws.

Delegate Eleanor Holes Norton, D-District of Columbia, said she’s willing to sacrifice gun control rights for voting rights.

“This is the best chance we’ve had to get a House vote for D.C. in my lifetime," said Norton.

However, local leaders like Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) call the possibility of a tradeoff wrong, undemocratic and insulting. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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