ITS THE SORT OF THING that should have been taken care of about fourscore and seven Congresses ago, but better a century or two late than never. Today, the House of Representatives is scheduled to take up the matter of letting American citizens who live in the District of Columbia have full-fledged, voting senators and representatives. So far in this year 1978, the proposed constitutional amendment that would provide this representation has done well in the House, for good reason. For one thing, all constitutional scholars who appeared before the House subcommittee handling this resolution stated that they saw no constitutional problem with full representation of the District in both houses of Congress.
Moreover, as research requested by Rep. Tom Railsback (R-Ill) points up, Washington is virutally the only capital in the free world that is denied representation in its national legislature. By now, too, we would like to believe that an overwhelming majority of the House supports this extension of democratic rights to disenfranchised Americans. It'll need all that support, too, for it takes a two-thirds vote to send the measure to the Senate. And therein lies an amendment, we're told, and it's one that should be rejected: Rep. M. Caldwell Butler (R-Va.) has said he plans to introduce an amendment to limit representation to the House. He was unsuccessful in offering a similar amendment last month, when the House Judiciary Committee approved full representation by a resounding, bipartisan vote of 27 to 6.
Mr. Butler himself wound up voting with the majority. Now he is saying, "I agree with the principle that District residents are entitled to representation, but I don't think anything else [than the limited representation] will pass the Senate by two-thirds and then be approved by 38 states." So should the House refrain from voting for what is right merely because the Senate might not buy it? Should the House be content to approve a partial measure that would upset the balance of the two houses of Congress by excluding the District from seats in the Senate?
No. The Republicans and Democrats who approved the resolution in the committee - as well as President Carter, Vice President Mondale, the House leadership, both party platforms and impressive national and local coalitions of concerned Americans - support full representation in Congress for the District. Now it's up to every responsible member of the House to join in seeing to that the people of the District are inlcuded in the decisions affecting this nation.