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|D.C. Council Members' Statements on the Voting Rights Bill|
Gray: Voting rights bill unacceptable without changes in gun provision
D.C. Council chairman Vincent C. Gray, a Democratic candidate for mayor, said today he will not support the D.C. voting rights bill pending before Congress unless substantive changes are made to the provision that restricts the city's ability to set its own gun control laws.
Gray, whose position puts him at odds with Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), called the gun amendment "too high of price to pay" for securing a vote in Congress.
"I do not support a bill that would have us give up our right to legislate and have us give up our gun control laws," said Gray.
Gray said he could change his position once final language on the gun amendment is drafted. Under the bill approved by the U.S. Senate last year, most of the District's local gun control laws would be repealed. Although she initially opposed the National Rifle Assocation-backed amendment, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) is going to try to get the U.S. House of Representatives to approve the voting rights bill later this week.
Norton is trying to negotiate to weaken the gun language, but plans to move ahead even if she can't reach an agreement with the NRA.
Fenty has said he will do everything he can to help Norton, arguing the District can work on getting the gun language changed after it secures a vote in Congress. Gun control advocates, including the Washington Post editorial board, hold views similar to Gray's.
But Gray's position puts him at odds with at least two of his council colleagues. Yvette D. Alexander (D-Ward 7) and Kwame Brown (D-At large), a candidate for council chairman, announced last week they support the voting rights bill even if it includes the gun amendment.
By Tim Craig and Ann E. Marimow | April 19, 2010; 11:54 AM EST
Council of the District of Columbia
OFFICE OF COUNCILMEMBER AT-LARGE MICHAEL A. BROWN
Chair, Committee on Housing and Workforce Development
Member, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 406
Washington, DC 20004
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, April 15, 2010
CONTACT: Linda Boyd - (202) 724-8105 – office;
STATEMENT FROM DC COUNCILMEMBER MICHAEL A. BROWN
ON THE DC VOTING RIGHTS BILL PENDING BEFORE CONGRESS
“The struggle for democratic equality through congressional voting rights, self- determination, and statehood for DC has been a long deserved and long denied goal that I, as a native Washingtonian, have worked for throughout my life. Thanks to congressional leadership and support from President Obama, I am pleased and encouraged that the DC House Voting Rights bill will again be considered by Congress this week.
However, congressional Republicans continue to sully the merits of this bill by imposing a dangerous and ideological amendment that would eviscerate the District’s current, locally-imposed gun control laws, and strip us of our authority to regulate or legislate our own gun laws.
Furthermore, the recent spate of shootings in the District should be a wake-up call for why we must reject the controversial gun amendment. Loosening the District’s gun laws is a deadly proposition.
While I am in full support of congressional voting rights for the District of Columbia, voting rights does not represent the full menu of democratic rights due to the residents of the District of Columbia, which include two Senators, budgetary and legislative autonomy, and full Statehood. Therefore, while it pains me to say it, I must reiterate the position I have had since Senator Ensign introduced this amendment in 2009: if we are unable to strip this dangerous and hypocritical amendment, then I must urge Congress not to move forward with this bill that grants democracy with one hand while taking it away with the other. We can and should demand more for the residents of the District of Columbia!
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DC Councilmember Michael A. Brown is the Co-Chair of the Council’s Special Committee on Statehood and Self-Determination and Chair of the Committee on Housing and Workforce Development.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 20, 2010
Contact: Victoria A. Leonard
Thomas Applauds Decision to Pull DC Voting Rights Bill from House ScheduleWashington, D.C. - Ward 5 Councilmember Harry "Tommy" Thomas, Jr. today applauded the decision of Congressional leaders to remove the DC voting rights bill from the House of Representative's schedule. In particular, Councilmember Thomas thanked Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton for changing course.
The original DC voting rights bill under consideration, which Congresswoman Norton endorsed, would have included an amendment gutting the District's gun-control laws and removing the city council's right to legislate firearms restrictions. When Norton learned that Congressional and Senate leaders had been gearing up to revise the bill's gun amendment to further weaken the District's gun control laws, she pulled her support for the bill.
Councilmember Thomas has been steadfast in his opposition to the House bill because it does not go far enough in providing the inalienable rights enumerated in the Constitution to the residents of the District of Columbia. "The District of Columbia deserves to be the 51st state," said Councilmember Thomas. "We, the residents of the District of Columbia, must be given full voting rights and privileges in both the House and Senate. Our disenfranchisement must come to an end." stated Thomas.
Harry "Tommy" Thomas, Jr. represents Ward 5 on the Council of the District of Columbia. Thomas chairs the Council's Committee on Libraries, Parks, and Recreation. He sits on four additional committees: Finance and Revenue, Housing and Workforce Development, Aging and Community Affairs, and Government Operations and the Environment.