D.C. voting rights bill to come in about 'two weeks,' delegate says

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton said Friday that a bill to grant Washington D.C its first House seat is about two weeks away.

While she ultimately declined to say "what the bill looks like now," she told WTOP radio that area residents would "find out very soon" -- later noting that "soon" meant about two weeks.

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"[I will] carry a bill to the floor that I think can pass the House and the Senate." Norton added, later criticizing D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty for not working closely with her on granting the District its first federal representative.

Nevertheless, Norton's forthcoming effort is hardly the first time the 111th Congress has taken up the politically contentious issue of D.C. voting rights.

Democrats piloted an effort to grant the area its first House seat earlier last year. But the legislation stalled when Republican Sen. John Ensign (Nev.) tried to attach to it an amendment that would have manifestly expanded gun ownership rules in the District -- a move local lawmakers feared would increase crime in the District.

House Democrats ultimately lacked the votes to remove the amendment, in part because a sizable bloc of party members feared a vote against it would have hurt their pro-gun records. When a later effort to morph the gun amendment into its own bill failed, House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced the bill would be on hold "indefinitely."

Norton would not say on Friday whether her forthcoming bill might include gun ownership language to satisfy Republican critics, though she has previously described that effort as unacceptable.

However, she did stress that this year was more important than ever for that bill to reach both chambers' floors, adding she hoped to steer her legislation to passage by the year's end.

"This is our last clear chance to get voting rights in a very long time," Norton said.

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