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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.

1977:
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.

1981:
Petitions Filed for D.C. Statehood
D.C. Gambling, Statehood Bid Now Official
D.C. Statehood: Liberals Could Scuttle Chances

1982:
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.

1987:
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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