A History of the Debate

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Here are some key dates in the debate over D.C. voting rights:

1960 -- Congress passes a proposed constitutional amendment that would give the District three electoral votes in presidential elections. States ratify the bill within about nine months, making the 23rd Amendment's adoption the second-fastest in history.

1964 -- D.C. residents vote for president for the first time in more than 160 years.

1971 -- Congress gives the District the right to elect a nonvoting member of the House.

1973 -- Congress passes the Home Rule Act, giving D.C. residents the right to elect their mayor and 13-member council. Congress retains the right to review and overturn locally passed laws.

Carter Backs D.C. Congressional Vote

1978 -- The House and Senate approve a proposed constitutional amendment giving full voting rights to the District. The amendment requires ratification by three-fourths of the states within seven years to become law.

Petitions Filed for D.C. Statehood
D.C. Gambling, Statehood Bid Now Official
D.C. Statehood: Liberals Could Scuttle Chances

Disputes Snarl D.C. Statehood Convention Meeting
Delegates Begin Writing Constitution for District
Banneker? Rock Creek? Delegates Propose Name for 51st State
A Constitution Is Approved for 'New Columbia'
D.C. Voters Approve Statehood Constitution and Nuclear Freeze
D.C. Statehood: Delegates Set

1985 -- The constitutional amendment backed by Congress in 1978 dies. Only 16 states ratify it, and 38 are needed for approval.
Kennedy Introduces Bill Urging Statehood for D.C.

New Strategy for Statehood Proposed

1993 -- The House defeats a bill sponsored by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) that would have granted statehood to the District.

1998 -- Two groups of residents sue for voting rights, and the D.C. government joins in one of the lawsuits. Congress passes a law that prevents the city from spending money on the litigation.

2000 -- A judicial panel rules against both groups, saying the Constitution grants voting rights only to people living in states, which excludes the city.

The District adopts a new motto for its license plates: "Taxation Without Representation."

2003 -- Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) introduces a bill that would add two House seats: one for the District and another that probably would go to a Republican-leaning state, Utah. It never comes up for a vote.
Davis Backs Expanding House for D.C. Vote
D.C. Groups Divided Over Davis's Plan

2006 -- Joined by Norton, Davis reintroduces the bill. But it once again fails to reach a vote.

2007 -- Davis and Norton try again, this time before a Democratic-controlled Congress. The House passes the voting rights bill, but it stalls in the Senate.

2009 -- The House and Senate again take up the voting rights bill. The Senate is preparing to vote on a bill sponsored by Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah). It is similar to Norton and Davis's measure.

-- Meg Smith

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