Playing Every Card in the Deck

Guest commentator Black Flag can appreciate the idea of playing what you got. It seems the Democrats in Congress, however, have throw more than a couple jokers into the deck over the last couple of weeks. So I was stumbling around checking things out today and I stumbled upon this little tidbit. It seems the Democrats are negotiating on terms to increase their power through additional representation in Congress…

I haven’t yet decided whether this falls under constitutional law and if it does, whether that should be changed via an amendment. That is where I hope all of you will help me out with some comments that help me think it through. But I will lay out where I am right now anyway and let you all know what is happening in Congress. 

For those that are not aware, Washington DC does not have voting rights in Congress. The Constitution is the basis for this. Article I Section 2 clearly states: 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. So the constitution clearly states that DC is not entitled to have a representative because it is not a state at all. It is, in fact considered the seat of the Federal Government. 

The 23rd Amendment gives Congress the right to appoint delegates for DC for the purpose of Vice Presidential and Presidential elections, but no further power is granted. So the bottom line is DC is not a state. therefore they cannot have members in Congress or the Senate. Which is good for Republicans, because DC has never voted less than 74.8% Democrat.

With their new found power and control the Democrats are looking to gain ground and set themselves up for a time when they are voted out of power. They are looking to have DC granted the rights of a state, and with it a representative in the House. This representative would certainly be a Democrat given the voting record in DC. In order to get Republican support they are offering an extra representative for the state of Utah, which is primarily Republican. It seems Utah was shorted on the last census and ended up losing a representative incorrectly. So the Democrats in their infinite generosity are willing ot correct that error for a price: a new representative from DC.

One problem, that is against the constitution. One bigger problem, allowing this to happen would pave the way for Congress to next make a move to allow two Senators from the Distract as well. In these days of trying to control the Senate, adding two more Democrats would be a powerful tool. So here is what we have had the last couple of years: 

  • The “District of Columbia Fair and Equal House Voting Rights Act of 2007” (H.R. 328) was the first to propose granting the District of Columbia voting representation in the House of Representatives while also temporarily adding an extra seat to Republican-leaning Utah by increasing the membership of the House by two. The addition of an extra seat from Utah was meant to entice conservative lawmakers into voting for the bill by balancing the addition of a likely-Democratic representative from the District. The bill did not make it out of committee.
  • The “District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2007” (H.R. 1433) was essentially the same bill as H.R. 328 though with some minor changes. This bill would still have added two additional seats to the House of Representatives, one for the District of Columbia and a second for Utah. The bill passed two committee hearings before finally being incorporated into a second bill of the same name. The new bill (H.R. 1905) passed the full House of Representatives in a vote of 214 to 177. The bill was then referred to the Senate (S. 1257) where it passed in committee. However, the bill could only get 57 of the 60 votes needed to break a Republican and failed on the floor of the Senate.  Following the defeated 2007 bill, voting rights advocates were hopeful that  gains in both the House of Representatives and the Senate during the November 2008 elections would help pass the bill.  Barrack Obama, a Senate co-sponsor of the 2007 bill, said, during his presidential campaign, that he would sign such a bill if it was passed by the Congress while he was President.
  • On January 6, 2009, Senators Orrin Hatch of Utah and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut in the Senate, and D.C. Delegate in the House, introduced the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2009. This bill is substantially similar to its 2007 version.

So in the last month or so I have been hearing the grumbling about this happening. I see it as just another attempt at the Democrats passing everything they ever wanted while they have significant power. The idea is get it done before America realizes they have been tricked and vote the Democrats out of the majority. 

I know some of you are thinking who cares. But we need to care. This would be a great gain for the Democrats and another political power play that would have ramifications for years to come. I will save further comment for below. So what do you guys think?

Comments

  1. The Democrats seem to be making up for lost time in a way to attempt to ensure them they will never have any lost time again. If the constitution did not provide for representation from DC, then the forefathers wanted it that way for a distinct reason. It is their wisdom which has allowed us to be the great nation we are, and now is not the time to begin to question that wisdom. I am sure they are all turning over in their respective graves with the current administration’s move toward socialism…hang on comrads, this is likely to turn into a fight!

    • Terry,
      That is a good point about the founders setting it this way for a reason. There is another side to that argument however. The founders certainly could not have ever foreseen that DC would become the home of 500,000 people. That is a half a million people who have a say in the Presidential elections but don’t have a vote in Congress. They do have appointed representatives in Congress that can help write law and participate in the debate, but do not have a vote. That doesn’t mean I agree or disagree with you at all. Just an observation of the other side of the argument. How do we rectify 500,000 people having no vote in Congress?

  2. The pessimist in all of us can certainly point to the obvious and say the Dems want a filibuster proof Congress. I think a deeper debate than what is sitting on the surface is merited and especially as it relates to a government “of the people, by the people, for the people”. The complementary questions should entail how this hurts/helps the citizens of the affected areas (not just in terms of what we all know is the teeth gnashing issue here)? Are they being denied representation and a vote (or votes) on issues that will directly affect them? Do you include other territories held by the U.S. such as Puerto Rico or Samoa? And finally – much as the Dems may try and set themselves up through this effort – it may smell no different than other efforts they may try and replicate from the Republicans – the careful art of re-drawing congressional districts (we do have a census coming up).

    • Ray,
      My reply to Terry above falls into partially answering your question. I think that your example of re-districting using the census brings to light a fundamental flaw of the constitution. It was written with the premise that people would be honest, forthright, and use common sense. Unfortunately that is severely lacking in today’s politicians.

  3. US – your point is still valid in that there exists intent in these decisions. Do they really give a shit about the 500K in D.C. or do they just want more Dems in Congress that can further solidify their base. This administration (Prez + Congress) have shown remarkably poor timing on many things already. They just are not very good at masking their true intentions or at least showing good governance.

    • Ray,
      I don’t think they care a bit about the 500k people. Nor do they care a bit about the 302.5 million other Americans (which makes them just like the Republicans). I am not sure that they are interested in good governance. I think they are interested in getting their agenda items passed while they still have the power to do so. I think this is a monumental mistake. In this information age, every time they try to sneak things through without public debate, like the health care stuff in the stimulus bill, people will notice and report on it. When Americans see this, many will abandon the Dems. Idealists or not, most Americans don’t like to see the game played dirty. Look at the backlash for guys like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemmons, and such. When you cheat, America loses faith in you.

  4. revolution2010 says:

    WOW, this is a sticky issue and I have to say that I am REALLY conflicted about it. I would have to say that I am more conflicted about this than ANY OTHER ISSUE that I have seen… Now, let’s step back from this for a second. I think that to have Representation in Congress, the area know as D.C. would need to become a state… as would any other areas held by the U.S. (Fifty-seven is such a nice round number though).
    According to Article. IV. Sec. 3 of the Constitution…
    For that to happen there are several things that must take place. First, the current congress would have to admit the territory as a state through an Enabling Act. D.C. would have to vote on a Constitution and ratify that. This step had already been taken care of in 1982 and the state was to be named New Columbia. After the voters of the territory ratify a constitution, though I am sketchy on whether that constitution would still be valid or have to be re-ratified by the voters… the admission must be ratified by 2/3 of the current States within 7 years for the territory to gain Statehood. That is where the last attempt failed, there were too few States that ratified the Amendment within the 7-year period.
    The other option here is to allow the State of Maryland to represent that portion of D.C., which was originally hers in that those people would then be represented without gaining a separate Statehood.
    While the talk of this is on going, talk is cheap. It would take years of rollover for the States to ratify because no Republican held State would ratify the Amendment. That is the funny thing about the 7 years. The States really have to want it in order to get passage without having 2 full terms of turnover. Wow, talk about a chess match. The timing would have to be perfect to allow that to happen!
    All very interesting nonetheless… I don’t think we have anything to worry about in the near future and I believe that there will be a third party rise up from the Libertarians within the time frame we are discussing. That again would change the WHOLE discussion!
    As a side note, I am a fan of the Constitution and I do believe that the people should have representation in some form and that it should be fair. I hate that it would go the way of the Dems as they are more offensive to me in many ways than the Reps, but I do think they should have a voice.

    • Revolution,
      You know how I feel on these issues. Thanks for adding such relevant information to the post here. You covered some important things that I didn’t cover. I agree that I want to see everyone represented. But the constitution is clear that you have to be a state. I think perhaps wrapping the population of DC into Maryland in terms of representation, which would give more the the house but not the Senate is the right move. But I am also conflicted. I haven’t really decided on the right move.

  5. Do any of you know why the residents of D.C. have never been concerned that they don’t have a vote in Congress?

    • Michelle,

      As a one (short) time resident of DC I will attempt to answer this one. It would be incorrect to assume that they have never been concerned. The residents of DC have always been concerned. This is not a new issue. The debate has been raging for decades, as long as I can remember. When I was a teenager running the streets with some friends there, I remember running across a rally over the issue and thinking not much of it as I didn’t really understand politics at that point. The Democrats didn’t care about the debate until it was clear that DC would always add to their ranks and not the GOP’s. At that point they began lobbying to make it happen. It has become an issue today because with their control of both houses and the White house, this is yet another Democratic wish list item they intend to pass quickly while they can. It ranks right up there with all the agenda items they put into the stimulus bill, the move to control the census, and now a new push to reinstate the fairness doctrine. That last one will be tonight’s post for me. The problem is that there is nothing to stand in one party’s way right now. Never good for either side to have complete control. Thanks for the question.

  6. WHAT?!?!

    Democrats trying to circumvent established legislative protocols and perhaps trampling the Constitution in the process? INCONCEIVABLE!

  7. U.S. Weapon,
    Great site, have been trying to catch up on earlier posts. I agree that this is simply a power-play by the dems. However, I am also thinking that DC residents are under the same “taxation without representation” that our founders were. Did the constitution not take into account a resident population? Don’t know much about the history of this issue but it does seem a valid point. Any info for me?

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  1. […] If you read my post on the Shell Game being played, this is in addition to that.  My friend USWeapon did a post on his Blog that is equally as interesting and thought provoking.  Check it out here. […]

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