Thursday, March 08, 2007

House set to give voting rights to D.C. Representative

According to CQ Politics, a bill that would give full voting rights to the District of Columbia Representative in Congress would be on the House floor by the end of March. Eleanor Holmes Norton is the current non-voting delegate from D.C., where the voting population is heavily African-American and Democratic. The bill would permanently increase the House membership to 437 and give a fourth seat to heavily-Republican Utah, which would be at-large, in order to keep the partisan balance in Congress at current levels. The thinking behind this is also that a considerable amount of Utah residents were missed by the 2000 census because so many are Mormon missionaries.

Republicans are promising a constitutional challenge, since D.C. is not a state, but one way or another, the citizens of D.C. should be given representation in the Congress (they currently can only vote in presidential elections). Over half a million people live in D.C., comparable to the size of the populations in small states such as Montana or Rhode Island which only have one Congressperson.

This also brings up a larger issue. The 435-membership in the House of Representatives was set by statute in 1911, nearly one hundred years ago. It can and should be increased. Think of how much the population of the United States has increased in nearly 100 years! The average member of Congress represents nearly 700,000 people. The American people are not adequately being represented right now.


Nat-Wu said...

The residents of DC do deserve the full rights of American citizens. I hope this goes through and they can finally enjoy them.

You're right that we need to do something about the representation in the House, but how can we increase representation proportionately without expanding the numbers of Representatives to ungodly heights? Do you think it's a good idea to have eight or nine hundred reps?

adam said...

Of course not. I don't see how it would effect the institution too much if you increased it just be a few dozen or so though.

Nat-Wu said...

But that wouldn't significantly affect how many people each Rep. actually represented. I was saying that to bring it down to any reasonable level, there'd have to be hundreds more Reps. I'd like to see each Representative be more representative, but I'm baffled as to how.

The Local Crank said...

On a curious, yet semi-related note, the Treaty of Hopewell guarantees the Cherokee Nation a delegate to Congress. The US actually signed treaties with a couple of tribes (including the Lenape/Delaware) that provided for representation in Congress, but never followed through on it. The treaties are still law; I think we should find somebody and have him or her camp out on the Capitol steps until someone gives them a seat and an office.

The Local Crank said...

If you're interested, here's a link to the text of the treaty: