Dems Pull the Plug on D.C. Vote Bill

After coming closer than at any time in more than 200 years to giving residents of the District of Columbia full representation in Congress, House Democrats have pulled the plug and given up trying to pass the bill this year.

House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer said he was "profoundly disappointed" that the 600,000 residents of the nation's capitol will remain without a voting representative in Congress, but said they will have to give up their effort to pass the measure.

And the reason, oddly enough, traces back to the NRA.

A compromise was reached last year to give Washington residents a vote in Congress by also providing another congressional seat for Utah. Utah came very close in the last census to picking up another representative and its population has continued to grow. So by expanding the House by two seats, one for D.C. and one for Utah, the partisan balance between Democrats and Republicans could be maintained. President Obama backed the measure and it looked like it would become law.

But after lobbying by the NRA, the Senate attached an amendment to the bill that would wipe out virtually all of the city's gun laws, some of the toughest in the country.

They were made less so by a ruling from the Supreme Court, but are still pretty strict.

The House was preparing to vote on the measure this week, but Democratic leaders knew they did not have the votes to take out the gun provision.

So the District of Columbia was faced with a choice - get the voting rights that had been denied them since the city was first created or keep their gun laws.

Hoyer says the District's non-voting representative in Congress, Eleanor Holmes Norton, who had tried to years to get a vote, made the decision that the price was too high and so for this year at least the effort for D.C. voting rights is over.


Bob Fuss is CBS Radio News' Capitol Hill Correspondent

  • Bob Fuss

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