Faced with the possibility that the latest attempt to give the District of Columbia voting representation in Congress may die, advocates of the proposal have taken to acting like spoiled children:
Advocates of a bill to give District residents a vote in the House of Representatives said yesterday they were dismayed that the White House opposes the measure but were determined to lobby Congress to get it passed.
“Our supporters are disappointed in this White House where you have a president who talks so much about voting rights abroad but can’t do it two blocks from the White House,” said Ilir Zherka, executive director of D.C. Vote, a nonprofit advocacy group. “The White House opposition is just going to fire up our folks.”
Alex Conant, a White House spokesman, said Friday that the Bush administration opposes the bill because of constitutional concerns. The Constitution states that only “people of the several states” elect representatives to the House, and the District is not a state, he said.
For some District residents, “it’s all about politics,” said Wendell Joice, 62, a lifelong Washingtonian who lives in Brightwood. “I don’t like it. We’re citizens, and we should have the rights of all citizens and not be caught up in a lot of political maneuvers that are disenfranchising us.”
Naomi Hart, a 50-year resident of Woodridge in Northeast, said she hasn’t been closely following the debate on voting rights, but she wants the bill approved.
“We’re in great numbers here in D.C., and we need that vote,” Hart, 84, said. “We pay taxes, and we should have the same right to vote as others.”
Memo to Mr. Zhirka, Mr. Joice, and Ms. Hart, nobody is trying to deny you any right to vote. We just happen to think that the Constitution is more than just words on a piece of paper.