Loose Lips

House Republicans: No Vote for You!

The District may not know which bright-eyed, bushy-tailed freshman Republican will be using all 601,723 of us as political props next year, but one piece of bad news from a Home Rule standpoint has already arrived from Capitol Hill.

For the last four years, under Democratic rule, D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton has been able to vote on many procedural matters and amendments, even if she can't have a say on final passage. That's because Democrats gave Norton and other non-voting delegates to Congress a vote in the Committee of the Whole House, which, for parliamentary procedure reasons, is often the form in which the body acts on legislation.

Say goodbye to all that, though. New rules the GOP leadership is proposing would strip Norton's vote in that committee. (She'll still be able to vote in the three committees she sits on.) A spokesman for the incoming Republican leadership, Brendan Buck, explains:

It's our view, and that of the Constitution, that only members of the House are eligible to vote in the House. In every meaningful way, the committee of the whole is the same as the full House, and therefore voting should be reserved for members.

Norton's aides haven't returned a call for comment yet.

The new House rules will also require the Constitution to be read aloud on Jan. 6, for what that's worth.

Update: Norton's office has gotten around to releasing a statement:

We have learned that the draft of the new House rules for the 112th Congress does not include a vote in the Committee of the Whole for the District of Columbia. Upon learning this information this morning, I called Speaker-designate John Boehner but he was not in. I have also asked for a meeting with him.

It would be very painful to have to inform residents that the only vote they have ever had on the House floor has been taken away. We have long understood the position of many of our Republican colleagues on the full House vote. However, we had hoped that the rules for our delegate vote would be retained next Congress for a number of reasons. There has been a definitive federal court ruling upholding the constitutionality of this vote. The delegates have repeatedly exercised this vote for years with no adverse effects on the House, with only positive effects for the federal taxpaying residents of the District.

Last month I explained in a letter to Mr. Boehner the unique offense residents have felt during the years they have paid taxes with no say whatsoever on the House floor. Residents have had to cope with no vote in Congress, but they have expressed particular consternation at the thought of losing the only vote they now possess.

We will be making every effort to retain our vote in the Committee of the Whole, and to convince our Republican colleagues that this vote benefits the reputation of the ‘people’s House’ by maximizing the participation of members to the greater benefit of the American people.

  • Skipper

    Maybe if Eleanor had made any sort of outreach to the Repubs over the past 4 years, they'd give a crap about her.

  • Really?

    Skipper I doubt it! Shit hasn't changes. Dems get in she gets a vote. Repubs get it and she's striped.

  • Truth Hurts

    No way of knowing for sure. But I lean toward Really's view.

    Republicans have solid control of the House, so taking away Norton's token vote on rules/procedures is an unnecessary bitch slap to DC residents.

  • poopieface

    Now she knows what it's like to be a Republican or other non-Democrat in this city. No vote! No Say in anything! Of course, we could have had representation. The Senate did pass the bill. But we decided gun control was more important. Even though 35 years of gun control has done jack to keep the city safe. You made your bed Norton. Now lie in it.

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  • citizenw

    The Vote Nazis are back.

    "No Vote for You!"

  • Mart the Writer

    "Delegates" are not Representatives and do not have a vote. It's as simple as that. The Democrats always pass some rule permitting this travesty and the GOP reverts to common sense when they're in power. If DC wants a vote, let them merge with Maryland.

  • DCNative

    @ mart. As our CONGRESSWOMAN noted in her statement, there is no unconstitutional action in a DC vote in Congress. It is amazing that somehow people outside of the District don't see the deep disconnect with basic political rights in this country by disenfranchising 600,000 people. So my alternative to you is don't charge my taxes as taxation without representation is tyranny (remember that little phrase?). And careful what you wish for on the Maryland thing. Don't you think a population swing of 600,000 will change the number of delegates for ANY state?

  • DCPolitics

    @mart to dovetail on DCNative's comment, there are 2 things wrong with your solution to merge DC with MD. #1-599,999 people in DC don't want it. #2- 4 million+ people in MD don't want it. You can't just force a condition on nearly 5 million U.S. citizens that they don't want. We may not have much of a voice in DC, but I'm confident that the reps. in MD would put the brakes on such a ridiculous measure.

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