Friday, April 27, 2007

DC Voting Rights - Walberg Votes No

More catching-up on what Tim Walberg has been up to...

The city of Washington, D.C., has an estimated population of 582,049. For purposes of comparison, the state of Wyoming has a population of only 515,004. Wyoming has two voting members of the United States Senate and one voting member of the United States House of Representatives. The District of Columbia has just one non-voting delegate to the House. Meanwhile, unlike residents of Puerto Rico, Guam, and other U.S. possessions, D.C. residents are subject to all laws and taxes that any other American must face.

Clearly, there's something that isn't quite right. There have been plenty of attempts to solve the problem, with limited success. The latest effort came with HR 1905, the "District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2007."

It passed, 241-177. Twenty-two Republicans joined the Democratic majority in support of the bill.

Congressman Tim Walberg, meanwhile, doesn't seem to have a problem with nearly 600,000 Americans (in the capital city, no less) having no voice in their government. He voted No, as did every other Michigan Republican except Congressman Fred Upton, who joined the Democrats in support.

Here's how it would work: the number of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives would be increased to 437 from 435, and D.C. would receive one of those seats. It would be a voting member, equal in every way to every other member. D.C. would still have no representation in the Senate.

The other seat, meanwhile, would go to the state that was closest in line to receiving another representative after the 2000 census-- Utah. Yes, the far-left District of Columbia and the far-right Utah are working together.

"Can they do that?" you ask. Well, sure. We now turn to the Constitution, Article I, Section 5:
Section 5. Each House shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members, and a majority of each shall constitute a quorum to do business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the attendance of absent members, in such manner, and under such penalties as each House may provide.
In other words, the House gets to decide who its members are.

Okay, so it's not that simple. After all, Section 2 says:

Section 2. The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several states, and the electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislature.

No person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty five years, and been seven years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state in which he shall be chosen.

And that seems to say that its members come from states, and exclusively states. That's one interpretation, anyway.

If the Senate passes the bill and President Bush signs it (which he probably won't), it'll certainly head to the courts, where minds much smarter than you or I will decide. But I find it disappointing that Congressman Walberg wouldn't embrace an opportunity to correct a fundamental flaw in our government, giving a significant population a voice.

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It is good to see our neighbor Rep. Upton was compassionate enough to support that bill.
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