Give District Of Columbia Residents A Voice, Coalition Urges Congress

Americans across the country were shocked to learn that millions of their fellow citizens were denied their right to vote in the November 2000 election. Most Americans do not know however, that for many years nearly 600,000 Americans—more than the population of Wyoming—are not allowed to elect representatives to Congress. Residents of the District of Columbia, a city in which a majority of residents are African-American, have no representation at all in the U.S. Senate and are allowed only a non-voting delegate in the House.

"The absence of full representation for the people of the District of Columbia is one of the leading civil rights failures of our time," People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas said. "District residents deserve the same representative government as other Americans."

People For the American Way (PFAW) leaders and members are joining the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and other advocacy groups to lobby senators to support the "No Taxation Without Representation" Act. Scores of D.C. residents, elected officials, and other citizens are participating.

PFAW President Ralph G. Neas joined Norton and others this morning to discuss D.C. voting rights with Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.

The bill, introduced by Norton, would require full voting representation in the Congress for District residents, or exempt them from federal income taxes until those rights are granted. The Act is co-sponsored by Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn. As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, Lieberman will conduct a May 23 hearing on voting representation for the district’s citizens.

D.C. residents fulfill more than their fair share of civic responsibility by providing critical skills that enable government to function effectively, serving in the nation’s military in times of war, and paying nearly $3 billion in federal income taxes each year. So far, more than 100 members of the House have signed on as co-sponsors of the "No Taxation Without Representation" Act.

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