IF YOU CHECK OUT the statements printed elsewhere on this page, For the Record, you can see that longtime Washingtonians who may have watched the televised hearings yesterday on congressional representation for the District of Columbia were doing quite a bit of deja -viewing. After all, it has been 37 years and two days since Sen. Arthur Capper's testimony. Still, it's always good to hear words of encouragement for the measure, and yesterday many faithful supporters of the proposed constitutional amendment were back to reaffirm their bipartisan sponsorship of the legislation, including the subcommittee's chairman, Birch Bayh, and Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass), Thomas Eagleton (D-Mo.), Edward Brooke (R-Mass., Charles Mathias (D-Md.), and Howard Metsenbaum (D-Ohio). They and other senators from both parties will continue to press for the two-thirds vote needed in the Senate to complete congressional approval. Welcome, too, was the strong statement of support from the Carter administration, delivered by Assistant Attorney General John M. Harmon.
Ah, but three senators who don't think very much of the idea provided the most fascinating testimony. As almost anyone might have guessed, Sen. William Scott (R-Va.), who is a member of the subcommittee, doesn't want the District to have any voting representation. But did you hear why? He thinks that giving District residents such a voice in Congress would allow them to put "undue pressure on Congress." Now, really. But if you won't buy that, try this: The senator from Virginia figures that much of the problem is solved by the people voting elsewhere in "their home states." Never mind that there are perhaps six times as many people who consider the District their home, including a respectable number of native-born Washingtonians.
That brings us to Sen. James McClure (R-Idaho), who says the idea "is not fair" because the district would be better off than cities with the same or larger populations. Those cities need "political dispensations" more than the District of Columbia does, said the senator, adding that after all, the District already has a special committee in Congress to "look after its interests." So if this legislation looks to be heading for enactment, Sen. McClure says - now don't laugh - he'll introduce an amendment that would grant congressional representation to all cities with populations equal to or greater than that or the District - and never mind that the people who live in those cities already have full representation in Congress, as do those from Idaho, with a population smaller than the District's.
A third opponent of the measure yesterday was subcommittee member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). He doesn't think the Senate should move because he doesn't think the states will like the idea. People around the country just dislike Washington, says Sen. Hatch, "not the people," mind you, but government in general. So the "majority of people" must be against congressional representation for the District, and forget that the polis, as well as more than two-thirds of the House, say otherwise.
Well, if that is the sum and substance of the opposition, we like to believe that the vast, necessary majority of other senators are ready to side with the constitutional experts who have found no reason that the District shouldn't have full representation in the House and Senate. In any event, after the next installments or these hearings on April 27 and 28, we hope that the subcommittee will approve the bill and press for its prompt and favorable consideration by the full Judiciary Committee.