Wednesday, February 18, 2009

NAACP Supported Voting Rights Legislation giving the District of Columbia full representation in the House to be considered by the Senate


The Issue:
Despite the fact that they pay federal taxes, serve on juries and defend our Nation in times of war like most other Americans, the residents of the District of Columbia are barred from having voting representation on the floor of the U.S. House or Senate. This classic example of "taxation without representation" is contrary to everything that this nation is founded on. This means that more than half a million people, more than 57% of whom are African American (with Caucasians making up just over 30% of the population and 8.5% of the residents claiming Hispanic background), are paying money to and dying for a government in which they have no say. It also means that the federal government is receiving and spending $4 billion without having to account for it. In fact, the residents of the District of Columbia pay more federal taxes per capita than all but one other state.

To begin to correct this gross injustice, the Senate is scheduled to consider S. 160, the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2009, as early as February 24, 2009. The NAACP supports this legislation as a good first step toward the goal of full democratic voting representation in Congress for DC residents. S. 160 would add two voting members to the US House of Representatives – one to represent Washington, DC and one to represent Utah (Utah narrowly lost getting an additional congressional seat after the last US Census in 2000; officials in Utah believe that thousands of missionaries living abroad were unfairly excluded during the Census count.) This bill provides a "vote neutral" option by adding two additional seats most likely to be represented by a Democrat and a Republican.

S. 160, which was introduced by Senator Joseph Lieberman (CT) has bipartisan support, and the House companion, H.R. 157 is almost identical to legislation which passed the House last year by a strong bi-partisan margin.

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