Today, the House Judiciary Committee marked up and passed HR 157, the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2009, and Leader Hoyer announced that the House will take up the bill next week:
With today's markup, Congress is one step closer to bringing representation to the people of this city. And I am happy to report that I, with the help of the three distinguished Members here with me, will bring the DC voting rights bill to the floor of the House next week.
Next week, we will be voting to keep a promise that is nearly two and a quarter centuries overdue. It was the promise of our founders, a promise put into words by the Father of the Constitution, James Madison, when he wrote that the people of the federal city 'will have had their voice in the election of the government which is to exercise authority over them.'
Year after year, as barrier after barrier to the vote fell, Congress ignored the voice of this city. We ignored it so long that America became the only democracy in the world to deny representation to the people who live in its capital.
You might ask how, at a time of economic crisis, Congress can find time for this issue. I think President Obama gave us an excellent reason last night: Because, even in times of the deepest crisis, this country never stops building for the future. If we can put aside our principles in bad times–principles like outstanding education, and healthcare for all, and, yes, full voting rights–those principles weren't worth much to begin with.
Generations of us have fought so passionately for the vote because a vote is more than a piece of paper every two or four years. It is self-respect. It is membership in a community.
The people of this city deserve those things just as much as any one of us, and as much as any visitor walking down the Mall today. With our vote next week, we can finally help them get it.