A Dec. 1 article about the effort to secure voting rights for the District in the U.S. House incorrectly said that constitutional amendments must be approved by two-thirds of state legislatures to be ratified. They must be approved by three-fourths of the states. The article referred to a 1978 constitutional amendment that would have given the District a vote in the House and two votes in the Senate. It collapsed when only 16 of the necessary 38 states approved it.
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D.C. Fights Clock, But Approval of Voting Bill Stalls
The voting-rights bill was overwhelmingly approved last spring by the House Committee on Government Reform, chaired by Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), who crafted the legislation.
But it became bogged down by details. Legislators have tried to draw the extra House district in Utah in a way that is constitutional and acceptable to Democrats, who fear losing the seat they hold in the state. Now that issue is nearing a resolution. A key legislative committee in Utah signed off on the boundaries Wednesday, and the full state legislature is scheduled to meet in a special session Monday to approve the new map.
Under the current law, the District's representative in Congress can sponsor legislation, belong to committees and take part in debates but is not entitled to a vote on the House floor. The bill would give the representative full voting rights. It would permanently expand the House from 435 to 437 members.
An aide to Davis agreed with Norton that the bill would probably pass early next year if Congress does not approve it next week. Pelosi predicted that initial action could be taken by the time of the State of the Union address in late January, Fenty said.
A spokesman for the California congresswoman, Drew Hammill, said Pelosi "indicated she is supportive of that legislation," which she co-sponsored.
Dave Marin, the Davis aide, said it would be the first piece of legislation that Davis would introduce in the new Congress.
"Whether it's next week or in February 2007, this will get done," he said.
Norton said the bill should pass easily because it has been debated in House committees and won support from members of both parties. However, she said, the Democratic leadership has issued a list of priorities it expects to tackle at the start of the new Congress, and it did not include the D.C. vote issue.
"They didn't expect the D.C. bill would still be pending," Norton said.