The U.S. House of Representatives passed the D.C. Voting Rights Bill 241 to 177 Thursday, the first time in three decades that the House agreed to a voting representative for Washington.
Both chambers of Congress passed a D.C. Voting Rights amendment in 1978, but it was not ratified by enough states. D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty released a statement Thursday praising the bill’s passage and encouraging the Senate to quickly approve the legislation.
“This is a great and historic day for the residents of the District of Columbia. I applaud the House of Representatives for passing the D.C. Voting Rights Act today,” Fenty said. “I look forward to the continued success of the D.C. Voting Rights Act and urge the Senate to take up this important legislation immediately.”
The bill would add two representatives to the House, increasing the number of members to 437. Both the largely-democratic District and the republican-leaning Utah would gain an extra seat if the bill passes. Funding for the two extra seats is created in another bill passed Thursday, which would increase the income tax for taxpayers making more than $5 million by .01 percent.
David Lehrman, a Foggy Bottom resident and commissioner on the Foggy Bottom/West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission, said the milestone was a positive development but he is skeptical of success in the end.
“I’m happy to see (the bill) developing, but I’m also realistic about the last 200 years of history,” Lehrman said.
The bill could become bogged down in the Senate because it does not have enough support to avoid a filibuster, The Washington Post reported. President George W. Bush has also announced he will veto the voting rights bill if it comes across his desk.