January 14, 2009

Dear Speaker Pelosi:

On behalf of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) and undersigned individual organizations, we are writing to ask you to bring H.R. 157, the “District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act,” (“DC VRA”) to a vote as soon as possible.  Before Congress begins to consider an economic recovery package and many other proposals that so greatly affect our nation’s future, it should assure the citizens of Washington, DC and Utah that Congress is committed to giving them a fair and equal voice.

Washington, DC residents pay federal income taxes, serve on juries, and die in wars to defend American democracy, but they do not have voting representation in the U.S. House of Representatives or the Senate.  As we work to promote democracy around the world, we simply cannot afford to leave hundreds of thousands of our own citizens completely out in the cold.

In addition, since 2001, Utah residents have had their right to vote undermined. Because thousands of state residents living abroad were not counted in the 2000 census, Utah was given only three Congressional districts instead of four. As a result, the votes of Utah citizens have been diluted.

The DC VRA will provide Washington, DC residents with their own voting member of the House of Representatives, for the first time ever, and give Utah an additional House district through 2010.  Because each party would likely gain one additional House seat under the bill, its political impact would be neutral.  As you know, in 2007, the House passed a similar version of the DC VRA with bipartisan support. 

The DC VRA is well within Congress’ broad Constitutional powers to govern the District of Columbia.  Furthermore, given the principles upon which the American Revolution was fought, we believe that our Founding Fathers would never accept the “taxation without representation” of more than 500,000 Americans today.

Please help expand democracy to the residents of DC and Utah by promptly bringing the DC VRA to the House floor.