A bill that would give the District of Columbia voting rights in the House of Representatives made it out of a Senate Committee today and is headed for a test on the floor of the Senate:
The D.C. voting-rights bill was approved yesterday by a Senate committee, clearing the way for a vote by the entire chamber on whether to give the District its first full representative in Congress.
The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed the bill 9 to 1, sparking jubilant applause from a packed hearing room. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) and the District’s non-voting House delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), joined a standing ovation by dozens of spectators.
The House passed the bill in April. Now it faces the steep procedural hurdles of the full Senate, where lawmakers can block a vote by threatening marathon debates — a tactic known as a filibuster. A supermajority of 60 senators is needed to break a filibuster.
“I’m thrilled. It’s very significant,” Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), the committee’s chairman, said of yesterday’s action. So far, he said, more than 50 senators plan to vote for the bill, a strong foundation but still not enough to guarantee success.
“It ain’t over. We’ve got a fight on the floor to get 60 votes,” said Lieberman, a co-sponsor of the bill. He said he hoped the measure could reach the full Senate in July.
Both the White House and the Republican minority leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell (Ky.) oppose the bill. But, in what advocates considered an encouraging sign, three Republicans on the homeland security committee backed the measure yesterday: Norm Coleman (Minn.), Susan M. Collins (Maine) and George V. Voinovich (Ohio).
The next big test for the bill will be to see if it can overcome an expected filibuster by McConnell and other Senate Republicans. Frankly, if the GOP has any political courage it will stand together in opposing this patently unconstitutional piece of legislation.
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