Hoyer Introduces Resolution to Restore Voting Rights to Delegates, Resident Commissioner

WASHINGTON, DC – Today House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) introduced a resolution that would amend the House rules to allow Delegates and the Resident Commissioner to vote in the Committee of the Whole House. The Delegates of the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico – who represent approximately 5 million American citizens – were allowed to vote in the Committee of the Whole House in the 110th and 111th Congresses, which worked well without legal controversy. The Republican rules package for the 112th Congress revoked that privilege.

“It is absolutely unacceptable to deny nearly 5 million Americans a voice in Congress,” said Democratic Whip Hoyer. “Republicans continually declare they are focused on listening to the American people. With this rules change, they are ignoring the voices of 5 million American citizens. We can listen to our people by continuing the constitutionally-sound policy of the last two Congresses, which gave Delegates and the Resident Commissioner a vote in the Committee of the Whole House. I hope Republicans work with us to reinstate this fair and common sense policy, rather than disenfranchising millions of citizens.”

Eleanor Holmes Norton, Delegate, District of Columbia: “We are cheered by the leadership of Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer and the solid support the delegates received in the first recorded House vote of the new Congress, recognizing our rights to represent our citizens with a court-sanctioned vote on the House floor. Stripping from us the only vote we have ever had was particularly heartbreaking for the District of Columbia, which barely missed getting full House voting rights last year. Our residents will always stand in solidarity with other delegates serving in the House, who insist on each and every right to which we are entitled.”

Eni F. H. Faleomavaega, Delegate, American Samoa: “Our constituents are part of the American family. They fight and die in disproportionate numbers in defense of our nation. The Republican rules package—by depriving us of our symbolic vote—dishonors their service and demeans their sacrifice.”

Donna M. Christensen, Delegate, U.S. Virgin Islands: “I applaud the leadership of the Minority Whip and thank him for his support for the U.S. territories and the District of Columbia. His support on opening day and his introduction of this legislation gives hope to Americans living in the territories that their voices do count.”

Madeleine Z. Bordallo, Delegate, Guam: “The Republican rules package makes this body less transparent and less responsive to the American people. By obligating the Delegates to take public stands, our limited vote showed our constituents where we stood on important issues and helped ensure that legislation under consideration took their welfare into account.”

Pedro R. Pierluisi, Resident Commissioner, Puerto Rico: “As the Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico, I represent nearly four million U.S. citizens, far more than any other member of this chamber. By depriving my colleagues and me of our limited vote, the Republican package sends a clear message to our constituents: You don’t deserve to be heard. You don’t count. And you don’t matter.”

Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, Delegate, Northern Mariana Islands: “The people of the Northern Mariana Islands are citizens of the United States, and the Constitution declares we are “subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” But the majority’s Rules exclude us from even symbolic representation in our government. The Pledge to America declared the majority would fight against those who whisper that America’s standing as the world leader of democracy is ending. But the majority has broken its own Pledge with these rules, which take away the vote from 5 million Americans.”

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