Large Majority of Senate Votes to Debate DC Voting Rights Act
DC Residents Are Big Step Closer to Achieving Voting Rights
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February 24, 2009
Washington, DC - Today, in a vote of 62-34, the United States Senate voted for cloture on the DC House Voting Rights Act (H.R.157/S.160). After a centuries-long struggle, DC residents have overcome a significant hurdle in their fight for voting representation in Congress.
"Congress truly made history today," said Ilir Zherka, DC Vote Executive Director. "Not since the 1970's has a piece of DC voting rights legislation made it to the floor of the Senate. After years of protests, marches and calls to Congress, District residents are finally on their way to having their voices heard."
DC Vote, an education and advocacy organization, has worked over the last decade to advance DC voting rights legislation and educate the American public about DC's second-class status. Just yesterday, the group hosted a national call-in day to the Senate - with more than 4,000 calls made from people across the country, urging support for the DC Voting Rights Act.
"The victory today is a huge step forward for the movement," added Zherka. "DC residents are one step closer to full democracy. A large majority of the Senate voted to give a critical voice to the more than half a million residents of our nation's capital."
DC Vote is optimistic that Congress will move quickly to pass the legislation. Tomorrow, both chambers of Congress will likely consider the bill. The Senate is expected to bring the DC Voting Rights Act to the floor for a vote and the House has scheduled a markup.
"Victory is so close on this issue but the fight's not over yet," said Zherka. "There has been a lot of discussion about possible amendments to the Senate bill. We are calling upon the Senate to pass this bill without amendments."
DC Vote's mission is full congressional voting representation for District residents. Next on the group's agenda is working towards full democracy for DC.
"We will certainly be celebrating once the DC Voting Rights Act is passed," Zherka emphasized. "It will be a momentous win. But then, it's on to the business of defending any legal challenges to the legislation and looking towards future victories such as Senate representation and broader, local autonomy for the District."