By Mike Soraghan - 06/09/09 11:38 AM EDT
Hopes have evaporated for passing a bill giving the District of Columbia voting rights in the House, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Tuesday.
The district's leaders can't reach consensus on what to do about an amendment that would gut D.C.'s gun laws, according to Hoyer (D-Md.), the bill's patron in leadership.
The bill has been stalled for months, but today represented Hoyer's most dismal assessment since the Senate passed the bill with the gun amendment attached. Previously, Hoyer had said he was confident the bill could pass this year.
The gun amendment is backed by the National Rifle Association and supported by conservative Democrats, particularly Blue Dogs from the South and the West. Together with Republicans, they form a strong majority in support of gun rights.
The amendment would essentially prevent D.C. from having gun laws stricter than the federal government.
Democratic leaders have been flummoxed by the drive by the NRA and Republicans to add the gun provisions to the D.C. vote bill.
Lawmakers believe that the NRA would “score” any procedural motion that brought up a D.C. vote without the gun amendment. That means any member who voted for it couldn’t have a perfect voting record with the NRA.
But it has long been expected that if the D.C. vote came to the floor with the gun amendment, Republicans and liberal Democrats would both vote to defeat it. That's because Republicans oppose giving the District a vote in the House, and liberals oppose NRA efforts to loosen gun restrictions.