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Letter to the Senate on DC voting rights

September 18, 2007

Dear Senator:

On behalf of the National Education Association's (NEA) 3.2 million members, we urge you to support cloture and oppose any filibuster on the DC House Voting Rights Act of 2007 (S. 1257).  This important civil rights bill would extend full voting representation in the House of Representatives to the District of Columbia. The cloture vote is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.

Just as NEA supported the Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006 (VRA, P.L. 109-246) as part of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), NEA also strongly supports the bipartisan approach to expanding democratic rights to all under- and unrepresented American citizens embodied in this legislation. We believe S. 1257 is an extension of the VRA and, as such, strongly discourage any attempt to delay a vote on this bill.  No civil rights bill has been blocked from a vote in the Senate since the era of segregation in America.

Introduced by Senator Lieberman, along with Senators Hatch and Bennett, S. 1257 was overwhelmingly approved on June 13 by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs by a vote of 9 to 1. On May 15, the committee held a standing room only hearing on the bill and on May 23, the full Judiciary Committee conducted an extensive hearing on the constitutionality of full DC voting rights in the House of Representatives.

Like the companion, bipartisan House-passed bill (H.R. 1905), S. 1257 pairs voting representation in the House of Representatives for citizens living in the District of Columbia with an additional Utah seat, expanding the size of the House to 437 members. The Senate bill also replaces the at-large fourth seat to Utah, as provided for in the House bill, with a new proportionate seat that is supported by the citizens of the State of Utah. The bill does not extend any rights or privileges for DC to the Senate, and is strictly concerned with how the House proposes to organize itself.

NEA believes it is time to extend full House representation to residents of the District of Columbia and fairly apportion representation to Utah. It is time to support cloture and the vote on S. 1257, and help end 206 years of taxation without representation for the citizens of our nation's capital.

Thank you for your consideration of these important issues. 

Sincerely,

Diane Shust, Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Advocacy