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White House Opposes D.C. Vote

House Democrats had insisted the Utah seat be at large to avoid a redistricting process that could hurt the lone Democratic member of the state's three-member House delegation.

The flurry of statements appeared to indicate a darkening future for the vote bill. But supporters said they were still hopeful that it could pass.

Davis, who crafted the legislation, said Bush had signed bills in the past that had raised constitutional questions, including a ban on what abortion opponents call "partial-birth" abortion, which is being examined by the Supreme Court. With the voting bill, too, Bush could ultimately choose to "err on the side of letting the courts decide," Davis said.

He also pointed out that prominent Republican lawyers, including Kenneth W. Starr, a former federal appellate judge and onetime independent counsel, and Viet D. Dinh, a former assistant attorney general, had analyzed the D.C. vote bill and deemed it constitutional.

"I'm hopeful that when this gets to the president, he will follow the writings of Judge Starr and Viet Dinh, who he relied on to write the Patriot Act," Davis said.

Norton also noted the support of the former top government attorneys. "With District residents among the troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, and other residents here paying taxes to support our government, it is unthinkable that this or any president would cast one of his few vetoes to deny our citizens representation," she said in a statement.

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) said in a statement that he still hopes the measure will quickly pass the House and Senate and be signed into law by the president.

"We will continue to do all we can to make sure that happens," he said.

Staff writer David Nakamura contributed to this report.

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