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Drudge and the Politico, one is a right-wing smear merchant with a stranglehold on the media’s self respect, the other is a once respected, overly hyped District rag that has managed to lose more credibility in one day than it has gained popping ads during the Daily Show.

Both are excitedly exclaiming what could be the most pointless, idiotic, and politically selfish act in modern history. After more than a century of taxation without representation the District was once again refused Congressional enfranchisement so the GOP could give the Democrats a parliamentary black-eye.

Here’s what happened, the Democrats brought the bill to the floor for a vote.  The Republicans then made a surprise motion to repeal DC’s 1979 ban on hand guns, this surprised everyone and forced Pelosi to pull the bill.

Why you ask?  Because the DC ban on handguns was voted on by the residents of the city, not congress.  Most Democrats agree with the ban, but Blue Dog Dems (the coalition of conservative Democrats who represent very conservative, often Republican leaning districts) were forced to support the measure or risk losing the endorsement of gun rights advocates who are a staple in their conservative home districts.  This would have made the bill a bit contradictory, granting the city a vote in congress but simultaneously violating its statute of home rule…either way it makes the majority look like fools.

I agree that the hand gun ban is unconstitutional and should be eventually repealed, but this particular situation deserves a bit more sensitivity since the representation of more than 600,000 taxpayers was at stake.

This is truly deplorable and Republicans should be ashamed of themselves.

Via The Politico

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Anyone who’s been to D.C. in the past few years has no doubt seen the brilliant “Taxation Without Representation” license plates. For those who don’t know, D.C.’s nearly 600,000 residents are forced to pay federal income taxes, yet still do not have a vote in congress.

DC Vote License Plate

Why can’t they have a vote? Well, there are several schools of thought on the subject of its constitutionality, Article 1, Section 2, Clause 1 of the United States Consitution says thus:

The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several states, and the electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislature.”

Strict constructionists will argue that since the District is not technically a state, it cannot have voting rights in congress. Proponents of voting rights argue that the constitution places the hands of D.C. primarily into that of the congress, so an amendment would not be necessary.

The political reasons are fairly simple and are the frank reality behind the city not getting represented properly. D.C. is strongly Democratic, the numbers are roughly 9 to 1 if not more. According to the last U.S. census, George W. Bush was the only Republican in Washington…and he wasn’t even President yet.

Republicans fear that by giving D.C. a seat, a fairly innocuous thing in and of itself, it will be a slippery slope towards full statehood/Senate representation, a prospect that is far more damaging to the Republicans.

The House has created a compromise, however. Former GOP Rep. Jack Kemp was, to his credit, one of the largest proponents of unconditional voting rights for D.C. After he retired, VA GOP Rep. Tom Davis, who is otherwise a douchebag (like Adam Putnam), took on the mantel of D.C. voting rights ninja in the 109th congress. His solution was to grant the District its House rep and also add a seat to Utah who had been clamoring for another one since the last census.

Most people in D.C. noticed this transparent and childish political tactic, but the general consensus was that it was fine as long as the District finally got the right to vote in its own interests.

New House Judiciary Committee Chairman John “Slow Talker” Conyers has revived the bill and it looks as though it will be successfully pushed through the House. The Senate and Executive, however, are a different story.

In the Senate, you’ll find Democrats and Republicans opposing the measure. Why? The Republicans are dead afraid of two liberal Democrat Senators popping up from the city, and Democrats from small states are afraid of the dilution of their power. The measure could be voted down, or it could be filibustered. It will likely never reach the President.

But if it does reach the Oval Office, the President has quite a conundrum on his hands. Bush is more than likely beginning to think of his legacy now. With Iraq and Afghanistan not doing so well, his tax cuts looking less and less stable, his MediCare program on the rocks, and his attempts at reforming social security destroyed…he needs to think about something he can spin positively in the years to come.

Imagine being the President that brought voting rights to a city with a population larger than that of the entire state of Wyoming? Conversely, the President could be spooked by the possibility of Eleanor Holmes-Norton actually having a say in something and veto the bill. There are quite a few possibilities.

So, like Sisyphus, D.C. continues rolling the great rock that is voting rights up the hill, only to have it likely come crashing down again. Unlike Sisyphus, however, the rock actually means something, and at least Sisyphus didn’t have to pay taxes for the hill.