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Measure to give D.C. vote stalls

House Democrats put off action on the bill after Republicans attempt to add a repeal of the city's gun ban.

March 23, 2007|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Legislation to give the District of Columbia a full vote in the U.S. House stalled Thursday when Republicans unexpectedly injected the volatile issue of gun control.

Apparently fearful they might lose control of the proceedings, Democrats decided to put off action indefinitely on the voting rights measure, which had appeared to be moving toward passage.

Republicans protested the delay and sought a quick vote on their attempt to repeal the capital city's ban on handguns. Democratic leaders "shamefully exploited a rule to kill debate and postpone the vote indefinitely," said House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).

But Mayor Adrian Fenty said there was no support in the district for repeal of its tough gun control laws. When people learn that D.C. residents again have been denied voting rights, he said, "I think it is going to backfire on those who have done this procedural maneuver."

The developments marked an abrupt turn on legislation that would give district residents voting rights in the House for the first time in more than two centuries.

President Bush has threatened to veto the bill, saying the Constitution allows congressional voting representation only for states.

Congress did approve a constitutional amendment in 1978 giving the district a vote in the House, but the amendment died after failing to get ratification by three-fourths of the states.

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