The U.S. Senate on Thursday voted in favor of a bill that would give the District of Columbia a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, but the bill's ties to local gun issues and a potential constitutional fight over D.C. voting rights mean that the measure is not without controversy.
The Senate's 61-37 approval of the D.C. House seat is expected to be echoed by a "yes" vote in the House of Representatives as early as next week, and President Obama is likely to sign the bill based on past statements indicating his support for the law. The D.C. voting rights bill and a related measure giving Utah an additional seat in the House would raise the number of U.S. House of Representative members from 435 to 437.
The Washington Post reports that the good news stemming from Thursday's Senate vote was tempered for some D.C. officials, as "lawmakers attached language strongly opposed by city leaders that strips most local gun-control laws." According to the Post, "The gun amendment complicates the D.C. vote bill's passage into law, because the legislation will have to be reconciled with a companion bill in the House with no gun provisions that is expected to be approved next week." And 'The Caucus' Blog from the New York Times warns that "a court fight almost definitely looms over the constitutionality of giving the District of Columbia voting privileges in the House that are akin to those of the 50 states."