Loose Lips

Did Harry Reid Throw D.C. Voting Rights Under the Bus for Naught?

Thanks Harry. (Photo by Brian Finifter/Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License)

It appears that U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's courting of a National Rifle Association endorsement in his tough re-election battle back in Nevada has come up empty. And as part of that delicate dance, Reid royally screwed over the District in its voting rights battle on Capitol Hill.

As The Wall Street Journal reported late last week, the NRA did not end up endorsing Reid after openly floating the idea of supporting the Senate's top Democrat. (The nation's largest gun rights organization did not endorse the Reid's GOP challenger, Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle.)

Those who were watching the battle over legislation that would have given the District full and equal voting rights in the U.S. House know Reid's role in allowing a "poison-pill amendment" on the voting rights legislation, a D.C. gun-rights provision that many D.C. officials, including Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, could not in the end stomach.

As Byron C. Tau wrote in Washington City Paper in June:

Rather than tightly controlling the bill’s path through the Senate, Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid had allowed a last-minute gun amendment to be added by his Republican Nevada colleague John Ensign. The addition had broad support among Republicans, not to mention centrist Democrats who fear the gun lobby. Reid’s explicit support gave cover for other Democratic senators to join him.

At the time that the Ensign amendment was introduced, Greg Kauffman pondered in The Nation: "Did Senator Reid really think Nevadans—which ranked first in foreclosure percentage in 2007—give a damn about gun regulations in the District?"

Well, maybe not most Nevadans. But it seems Reid cared what the NRA thought.

Photo by Brian Finifter/Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License

  • better than a vote

    Voting rights is a poison pill for DC. It's symbolism, nothing more. I would rather see resources put towards allowing DC greater autonomy to govern our own affairs. If we get a vote without any expansion of home rule, any further attempts at expanding self governance will easily be squashed with 'well you have a vote, what else do you want'.


    DC residents want statehood not voting rights that give us 1/3 representation in Congress. Its just as easy to vote for statehood as it is to vote for a token vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.

  • Southeast Resident

    Reid sold DC out for nothing! I am glad that he got nothing for it in the end. That is what happens when you turn your back on fellow Democrats who quest for similar rights to what he has. This was what he deserved. As much as I would hate his seat to go to an incompetent Republican, I would not shed a tear. In my opinion, statehood is not the issue; voting rights is. The Federal government is the largest industry in DC. If the Federal presence was not here, DC would only be econmoically viable as a part of Maryland, unless we have some kind of game like casinos, a waste repository location, a location for nuclear power plants, or a location for stashing terrorists or prisioners unwanted from around the rest of the USA (i.e., a backup when Guantanamo Bay eventually closes). The Federal government and DC are intertwined. The point is to obtain voting representation in the national legislature when citizens living here are paying Federal taxes. That has to be addressed. A lawsuit needs to be filed to get our voting rights on the national level as all other tax paying Americans. Either we get votes in the national legislature to match our population or we get some offset in Federal taxes for not having it. That is the bottom line. It makes no sense for our delegate to be non-fully voting like Guam, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, and the Northern Marianas, but we unlike them have to pay Federal taxes.

  • Prudence

    Every vote OF Harry's, is a vote FOR Harry. Harry works for Harry! Constituencies, parties, principles -- all negotiable. However, since he's sold out everybody the only vote left for Harry, is Harry's. After all, who wants someone on their side who is not on their side ? Ask Nevada with the highest unemployment in the nation -- it's a joke on them! They elect Harry to a powerful position, and all he does is pander to his position and Nevada can sink or swim --- and sunk they are !

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