D.C. Vote: Pro & Con
||Friday, April 5, 2002
Against giving Washington, D.C., residents full voting representation in Congress
The Constitution of the United States (Article I, Section 8) gives the U.S. Congress the power “to exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever” over the capital district.
When Congress took complete control of the District of Columbia in 1800, legislators ended representation in Congress for D.C. residents.
When D.C. was nearly bankrupt in 1874, Congress revoked territorial government and the position of voting representative.
Washington, D.C., has a history of poor management. Examples include scandals and imprisonment of a four-term mayor.
Only 16 states voted between 1978 and 1985 to ratify the D.C. Voting Rights constitutional amendment.
In October 2000, when the Supreme Court declined to hear arguments in the dispute over D.C. voting rights, the Court stated the issue of voting rights needed to be decided by Congress, not the judiciary. This decision affirmed a lower court’s ruling that D.C. residents do not have a constitutional right to a voting representative.
In January 2001, President George W. Bush asked that the Taxation Without Representation license plates be removed from his official vehicle.
In favor of giving Washington, D.C., residents full voting representation in Congress
In 1790 the District of Columbia was formed by combining land from Maryland and Virginia. D.C. residents continued to vote in, and even run for Congress from, their former states.
In 1871 Congress established a territorial government for D.C. This included provision for a voting representative in the House of Representatives.
In 1970 the position of nonvoting representative to the House of Representatives was established.
Congress granted D.C. home rule in 1973, allowing citizens to elect a mayor and city council. Congress retained the right to approve the city’s budget and to veto legislation approved by the city council.
In 1993 the U.S. House of Representatives voted to allow delegates from D.C. and the four territories (American Samoa, Guam, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands) to vote on the floor of the House in the Committee of the Whole. In cases where the votes of the delegates are decisive, a second vote in which the delegates may not vote is required.
U.S. Territories have nonvoting congressional delegates, but their residents do not pay federal taxes.
Washington, D.C., in 2000 was a technology center on the East Coast, yet had no vote in Congress on business regulation and international trade.
In January 2001, President Bill Clinton asked that the Taxation Without Representation license plates be placed on his official vehicle.