Senate Democrats

Reid: D.C. Voting Rights Bill Will Ensure Long-Overdue Equal Representation for 600,000 Americans

Washington, DCSenate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today on the floor of the U.S. Senate before voting for the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2009, which the Senate then passed.  Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

“We have had a good debate on this bill this week, and I thank my colleagues on the other side of the aisle for their cooperation in moving this bill forward.

“The Senate today is moving to right a centuries-old wrong.  It is an inexcusable and indefensible injustice that nearly 600,000 residents of theDistrict of Columbiado not enjoy a voice in Congress like all other American citizens. America is the only democracy in the world that denies the citizens of its capital city the right to voting representation in its national legislature.

“Residents ofWashington, D.C. pay federal taxes.  They sit on federal juries.  They serve bravely in our Armed Forces.  Yet they are provided only a ‘Delegate’ in Congress, who is not permitted to vote.  This injustice has stood for far too long.  Shadow representation is shadow citizenship, and it is an offense to our democracy.

“The bill I hope the Senate will pass today is fair, bipartisan and long overdue.  If we can send American soldiers to fight for democracy around the world and ensure citizens of other nations have the right to vote, the least we can do is give the same opportunity to our fellow Americans in the shadow of the United States Capitol.

“We will shortly vote on a bill that honors the residents of this District – who responsibly meet every single expectation of American citizenship – but are denied one of the most basic civil rights in return.

“I commend Senator Lieberman, who has taken leadership on this issue for no reason or agenda other than to do what is right.  I urge all of my colleagues to vote for cloture so that we can move forward on this important measure.”