Senate Won't Get D.C. Vote Bill Before Fall

By Mary Beth Sheridan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid said yesterday that he would not bring the D.C. vote bill to the floor before September but added that supporters were "getting close" to having enough votes to pass the measure quickly.

"When Senator [Joseph I.] Lieberman and I feel that we have 60 votes, or close to it, we'll work to bring it to the floor," Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters. Lieberman (I-Conn.) is the measure's chief Senate sponsor.

A Senate vote "is not going to happen now because we do not have the 60 votes," Reid said. "We're getting close."

Advocates of the bill had hoped it would clear the Senate before the month-long break scheduled to begin the end of this week. The bill passed the House in April and a key Senate committee last month.

But the measure is opposed by the Senate's Republican leader, Mitch McConnell (Ky.), who could use delaying tactics that would require 60 votes to overcome. If the measure passes the Senate, the White House has threatened a veto.

The bill is a political compromise that would add one House seat for the heavily Democratic District and another for the next state in line to pick up a seat, based on population. Currently, that's Utah, a Republican bastion.

Lieberman said the bill's sponsors are going to work on rounding up votes during the August break.

"And I hope to be in a position, when we come back after Labor Day, to report to Senator Reid that we've got at least 60 votes and then ask for floor time," Lieberman said. He and Reid spoke to reporters after a Democratic caucus lunch.

Reid said he would bring up the bill when it had a good chance of victory -- but he wasn't necessarily going to wait for 60 committed votes.

"If we get close . . . we're not going to let this go by without people having to belly up to the bar and vote on it," he said.

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