Wednesday, February 25, 2009

DC on the Cusp of Representation?

A bill which would give DC a voting representative in Congress has passed the Senate, clearing a major hurdle. Since DC will invariably elect a Democrat, the bill also expands the House to accommodate another Representative from Utah (which came just short of receiving one in the last census), which will very likely be Republican. The House version of the bill actually goes further in massaging partisan concerns: it makes the new Utah district at-large, to prevent the state legislature from using the opportunity to redistrict Rep. Jim Matheson (D) out of his seat.

Of course, the next step is a constitutional challenge, and so DC could still be left with nothing. But it is a step in the right direction. DC's colonial status may soon be finally crumbling.

UPDATE: Ryan Avent and Matt Yglesias rightly point out that the real end-goal of all this should be DC statehood, and anything less than that (with the possible exception of retrocession to Maryland -- which probably would be more difficult than statehood anyway) is ultimately intolerable.

UPDATE #2: Two steps forward, one step back: Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) wants to attach a rider to the bill which would overturn many of DC's gun regulations, which he alleges are unconstitutional in the wake of Heller. Maybe that's true, maybe that isn't, but either way, it isn't Congress' problem. Congress should let DC determine its own laws. If they're unconstitutional, the residents can sue in federal court, and they'll be struck down.

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