the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

June 9, 2007

My Appearance on the CBS Evening News


A few days ago I got an IM from a friend:

gene: I saw you on CBS Evening News!
keith: ?
gene: Front and center at the DC vote hearings
gene: I have a tape of it; I’ll send it to you
keith: That would be great.
keith: I heard they were doing something, but I missed it.
gene: I thought you would have known but saved a tape of it just in case. Glad I did!
keith: There was one point when somebody put a camera in my face, but I didn’t know who they were with.
gene: It looked like the camera was 2 feet from you(!)
keith: It was.
keith: I was trying not to look at it and wondering what they were shooting.
gene: Here I am calmly watching the news, and suddenly THERE’s KEITH! and about fell out of my chair.

As it turns out I didn’t need to wait for the tape, since the segment (from June 1) is online. I appear for a second or two in a shot of the audience at Lieberman’s May 15 committee hearing on the DC House Voting Rights Bill (S. 1257) near the midpoint of a 3-minute report on DC’s situation. There’s even a closeup of my “Demand the Vote” button.

The piece was accompanied by a 1-minute Katie Couric editorial in favor of representation for DC. It’s good to see coverage on a major national program.

May 23, 2007

DC Voting Rights Bill Update


Demand the VoteThe DC House Voting Rights Bill, S. 1257, gets a little further today as the Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing, “Ending Taxation without Representation: The Constitutionality of S. 1257″. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) will preside. The hearing will be webcast from the committee’s site live at 1:30pm.

The witness list includes elected officials from DC and Utah, and a panel of constitutional scholars to educate the committee members about how the bill fits into the provisions of the Constitution (or fails to do so). Let’s hope they’re able to convince some Republican senators who aren’t from Utah.

Since my last update, four more senators have signed on as cosponsors:

That brings the total to 13, not counting Joe Lieberman (I-CT), the main sponsor. It’s good to see support from Democrats from across the ideological spectrum. Now if we can just get enough Republicans to avoid a filibuster. According to local commentator and voting rights advocate Mark Plotkin, former Maryland lieutenant governor Michael Steele is lobbying Republican senators along with Jack Kemp.

May 14, 2007

DC Voting Rights Bill Hearing Tuesday


The next stage in the DC House Voting Rights Act’s passage through the Congress is a hearing Tuesday. If you’re able to come to the Hill that morning, please do, so we can have a crowd to demonstrate that DC residents care about the issue. Here’s the latest message from DC for Democracy:

As our patron Senator on DC Voting Rights and Chair of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, Sen. Joe Lieberman has just announced the schedule and witness panels for an important hearing on S. 1257, the DC House Voting Rights Act of 2007, on Tuesday, May 15 at 10:00 AM. All details about the hearing, including the witness list, can be found at http://www.dcvote.org/events/event.cfm?eventID=330.

To demonstrate our overwhelming support for the Senate’s quick response to our demand for full House voting rights, we are calling on all DC For Democracy members who are able to attend the 10:00am hearing, to please do so. We need to make our presence known and pack the room on Tuesday. Please attend the hearing if you are able — and show up early to get a seat! If you cannot make it in person, the hearing will be Web cast live from the Committee’s Web site at http://www.senate.gov/~govt-aff/.

Please RSVP to votingrights{at}dcfordemocracy.org.

Hope to see you all on Tuesday!

Karen Rose
Chair, Voting Rights & Democracy Committee
DC for Democracy

Since my previous post on the subject, two more senators have signed on as cosponsors: Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and John Kerry (D-MA).

If you’re a Virginia resident, please contact Sen. John Warner, who’s a possibly persuadable Republican member of the relevant committee, and ask him to support the bill, S. 1257. For that matter, wherever you are, if you have senators, ask them for their support. One way to send a message is to use the Free and Equal DC site.

May 4, 2007

Sens. Obama and Clinton Support DC Voting Rights


This week Joe Lieberman introduced S. 1257, the Senate version of the DC voting rights bill (the House version, H.R. 1905, passed last month). So far he’s got seven cosponsors, and it’s good to see that they include two of the Democratic presidential candidates, along with other Democrats from across the political spectrum, and the two senators from Utah (both Republican):

I’m hoping that Lieberman will be able to reach out to more Republicans to increase support and avoid a filibuster. Of course even if the bill passes the Senate it may still be vetoed by the president, but I’m hoping that if enough Republicans go along Bush won’t feel obliged to use one of his rare vetoes to stand in the way of bringing partial democracy to the residents of the nation’s capital.

If you’re one of those Americans who’s fortunate enough to have senators, please contact them and ask them to support S. 1257. You can use Mike Panetta’s Free and Equal DC site to send a message (and DC residents can use it to send messages to their state-dwelling friends).

April 19, 2007

House Passes DC Voting Rights Act: Vote Breakdown


As the Democratic leadership promised after Republicans managed to torpedo an earlier bill last month, the House passed a bill that would give DC a full representative in the House. The bill, the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act (HR 1905), has a long way to go still — and even if passed and found constitutional it does nothing about our lack of a voice in the Senate — but it’s an important step.

The vote was 241–177, with 22 Republicans standing against their party and voting for bringing democracy to the nation’s capital:

On the other hand, 6 Democrats voted against the legislation:

Republican Rob Bishop (UT) voted present, and 7 Democrats and 7 Republicans, including Virginia Republicans Jo Ann Davis and Eric Cantor (my parents’ congressman), didn’t vote.

Update (10:53pm): What is it with Pennsylvanians? Three Republicans and three Democrats from Pennsylvania voted the opposite of the way the vast majority of members of their parties did. Pennsylvania has 19 House members, so that means almost a third were mavericks on this bill.

April 12, 2007

Be a Part of History: March for Voting Rights Monday!


Demand the VoteOn Monday, April 16, DC Emancipation Day, Congress returns from recess, and the people of DC will be greeting them with the biggest demonstration ever for DC voting rights. You can be part of it. If you work for the DC government (including the schools), you won’t even have to take time off work, since Emancipation Day is a city holiday. Otherwise, please consider taking part of the day off and showing that you care about having voting representation in Congress, even if you can attend only the rally at 4 o’clock.

DC Vote is the main organizer of the march, which conveniently ended up being the week that the DC Voting Rights Act is expected to be reintroduced in the House. For details see www.votingrightsmarch.org.

I’ll be marching with DC for Democracy and some other folks from DC Drinking Liberally. If you’d like to join us, RSVP. I hope to see you there!

March 27, 2007

Wednesday Political Events


Those of you who are interested in politics and plan your schedule at the last minute are in luck. The evening of Wednesday, March 28, is chock-full of exciting events:

January 26, 2007

Tom Davis on the Fake Vote for Delegates


The House voted Wednesday to change its rules to give the five nonvoting delegates (actually the one from Puerto Rico is called a resident commissioner) something they had for a few years in the 1990s but lost when the Republicans took over:

The measure allows [Eleanor Holmes] Norton and representatives from Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa and the Virgin Islands to vote in the Committee of the Whole, where amendments to legislation are considered.

But it comes with an important caveat: If the delegates’ votes provide the margin of victory, their votes are thrown out and representatives revote without them.

The vote was almost entirely along party lines, but strangely Dan Burton (R-IN) and Gene Taylor (D-MS) both voted in opposition to their parties.

My feelings on the matter remain unchanged: this purely symbolic vote that doesn’t really count is a meaningless distraction from the real goal. The main advantage of having it restored is that Norton can stop complaining about having lost it.

Tom Davis (R-VA), sponsor of a bill to give DC a real vote, explained why he was voting against the fake vote, and I mostly agree with him:


November 10, 2006

Voting Rights Confusion


For those of us who live in the national capital and pay federal taxes but have no vote in the Congress that decides how those taxes are spent, this sounds hopeful, doesn’t it?

U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi said yesterday that she hopes to swiftly bring the District a step closer to full voting rights in the House, a measure D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton called a move in the right direction.

But the article goes on to say that although Norton would be able to vote on changes to legislation, “she would not be able to vote on final passage”. Okay, but that’s still something, right? Wrong. Look at the fine print, a few paragraphs down (emphasis added):

From 1993 to early 1995, Norton and delegates from four U.S. territories were allowed to vote on the House floor in most cases. However, if their votes ever provided the margin of victory on a measure, a House member could request a second, binding vote without them. Republicans nixed the limited vote in 1995, after taking control of Congress.

Pelosi’s press secretary, Jennifer Crider, said last night that the proposed rule changes would seek a return to those provisions. However, she said, Pelosi had not yet specifically addressed the issue of the U.S. territories’ voting rights.

So if Norton’s vote ever actually makes a difference, they’ll re-vote without her. In other words, the whole thing is just symbolism. I realize that Norton has been complaining for more than a decade now about losing this meaningless voting power, but that doesn’t mean that restoring it is anything to rejoice about.


DCDL is a blog by Washington, DC-area members of Drinking Liberally. Opinions expressed are the writers’, not those of Drinking Liberally, which provides no funding or other support for this blog.

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