Statement on the District of Columbia, House Voting Rights Act

this important legislation, the district of columbia, house voting rights act is dedined to do one thing enfranchise americans fully with a voting representative in the house of representatives. i have the great honor of TimeCode: 12:34:00.3 representing the great state of maryland. maryland, at the request of the federal government, gave some square miles of its state to our federal government and to TimeCode: 12:34:15.1 the people of america. and at that time there were marylanders living, just a few, but marylanders living within the confines of what was to become the district of columbia. TimeCode: 12:34:30.1 now, this was post 1787 so that the miracle in philadelphia did not contemplate disenfranchising those voters in the various states as my friend from texas mentioned. TimeCode: 12:34:48.7 because the residents that then became because of the generosity of the state of maryland residents of that federal district were then residents of the several states. TimeCode: 12:35:07.0 washington, d.c., is the only capital in a democracy in the world, in the entire world that does not have a voting TimeCode: 12:35:22.9 representative in its parliament. in the world. clearly the successor residents of the district of columbia TimeCode: 12:35:40.0 succeed residents of the several states. TimeCode: 12:35:47.8 the continued disenfranchisement of more than 500,000 americans is unconscionable, indefensible TimeCode: 12:36:00.0 and wrong. since 1801 when washington, d.c. became this nays' capital, the citizens of the district of columbia have not had representation in the congress. not in the house of representatives and not in the TimeCode: 12:36:14.8 senate. it is wrong as a matter of principle because district citizens pay federal taxes, sit on juries and serve in our armed forces like other americans in this body do. TimeCode: 12:36:32.0 and if they move tomorrow to maryland or virginia or texas or california they will be fully enfranchised. they're not second-class citizens. but the area in which they live is being treated as a TimeCode: 12:36:49.3 second-class area. this, the nation's capital. you cannot cite another capital in the world that does that. if they allow any of their voters to be represented in a TimeCode: 12:37:04.5 true democratic institution. it is wrong politically because district citizens since 1801 have effectively been a ward of congress. without the opportunity to make TimeCode: 12:37:19.0 their voice felt on the legislation it affects only them. ironically on this bill, we're going to again have a motion to recommit which affects only the residents of the district of columbia. it is wrong, i suggest to you, morally as well. TimeCode: 12:37:37.2 because the united states professes to have the truest form of representative government in human history. we are proud of that, rightfully so and yet we deprive the citizens of this nation's capital of their voice TimeCode: 12:37:52.1 in their national legislature. let me add the united states is the only representative democracy, as i have said, that does that. the absence of representation in congress for district citizens underscores the TimeCode: 12:38:06.7 failure of the congress to use the authority vested in by the constitution to correct an injustice. i want to say to my friends in this body, so many of you have voted aye on propositions that only recently the supreme court TimeCode: 12:38:24.5 of the united states have said are unconstitutional. you put in language to say, oh, well, it is constitutional because of x, y, and z to try and substitute our judgment for the judgment of the supreme court of the united states. TimeCode: 12:38:39.7 repeatedly you have voted for legislation that the supreme court has said is unconstitutional and you know it. we have spent $379 billion, 3,200 lives and we'll vote tomorrow on a bill that seeks TimeCode: 12:38:55.2 to spend $100 billion more so that the citizens of baghdad, the citizens of baghdad can have a parliament in the citizens of baghdad have a TimeCode: 12:39:10.5 vote. but too many will vote not to give the same right to our sisters and brothers who live in the district of columbia. the authority i refer to for TimeCode: 12:39:30.1 the constitutionality is article 1, section 8 of the constitution, the so-called seat of government clause under which the congress shall have power to exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever. TimeCode: 12:39:45.7 exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever. for as i remind you, those residents of the several states or their successors who are now residents of the district of columbia. plain and simple this sweeping TimeCode: 12:40:02.9 language gives congress, quote, extraordinary and plenary powers, to adopt legislation to enfranchise the district's 550,000 americans with a full vote in this house. TimeCode: 12:40:19.1 i'm far from alone in my view of article 1, section 8. 25 legal scholars which have just been entered into the record make that assertion. and as the chairman of the committee, i'm not used to TimeCode: 12:40:37.2 quoting kenneth starr. i quote kenneth starr, not as the supreme expert, but TimeCode: 12:40:44.2 certainly as not a partisan of my party. in fact, i would remind every member of this house this bill was reported out of the republican chaired, republican majority government reform committee just last congress. TimeCode: 12:40:59.8 mr. davis is a co-sponsor. not only a republican leader, wu the chairman, former chairman of a committee and former chairman of the republican congressional campaign committee. not just a back bencher, but a leader in the party who said TimeCode: 12:41:15.8 this is constitutional, but in any event, it is the right thing to do. mr. starr's tightly reasoned testimony before the house government reform committee in 2004 in favor of the substance of today's measured should be TimeCode: 12:41:31.1 required reading for every member of the body who believes this somehow may be a partisan vote, in fact, as has been mentioned we give to utah as well as has been historical practice to do two at a time, TimeCode: 12:41:47.2 as we did alaska and hawaii. that doesn't unusually enfranchise, i would suggest, utah voters. i come from a state that had an at-large representative for most of the 1960's. his name is carlton sickles, TimeCode: 12:42:03.8 one of my predecessors, lived in the county where i grew up. yes, before rental v. simms and baker v. car. that was for state purposes. some of you may have served TimeCode: 12:42:21.6 with him. we, the members of the house must never be seduced into thinking there is such a thing as settled in justice. hear me. settled in justice. TimeCode: 12:42:38.1 -- settled injustice. the author of the dred scott legislation was a marylander. that was the constitutional TimeCode: 12:42:50.4 law. it was wrong. it was wrong legally. it was wrong ethically. and it was certainly wrong morally. it is time, my friend in this body, today, to stand up, speak out for democracy and justice TimeCode: 12:43:08.5 for our fellow americans if we can fight for democracy in baghdad, we can vote for democracy in washington, d.c.