DC gun laws are important, but its citizens' voting rights are even more important in my humble opinion. And no doubt it would've been very painful to accept National Rifle Association-sponsored gutting of Washington DC's gun laws in exchange for Congressional voting rights, but bad call Tuesday by Steny Hoyer, DC 'sorta Congressional rep' Eleanor Holmes Norton and the Democratic Party establishment to abandon the chance for voting rights for DC citizens.
The Senate in February 2009 had passed the first voting rights bill for Washington DC in 32 years. Too bad that historic vote's now wasted. Hoyer said it's unlikely he'll bring the bill to the House floor in 2010.
And how the hell did the NRA amendment get onto the Senate's bill in the first place? . . .
Didn't the Democratic Party have a 60-vote majority there last year? Well, my sense is that the party leadership and President Obama didn't want to expend political capital offending the NRA. In fact Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid voted for the pro-guns provision, which would, according to the Washington Post, "remove the District's ban on military-style weapons, repeal the city's firearm registration system, allow teenagers to possess semiautomatic assault rifles and undermine federal anti-gun trafficking laws."
Read here for the anti-gun lobby spin on how things went down, blaming the gun lobby. But that boat had sailed more than a year ago, and both Hoyer and Holmes Norton had grudgingly overcome their revulsion and accepted the 'NRA amendment' as the price for DC voting rights, Holmes Norton saying just last Friday, "This is the best chance we’ve had to get a House vote for D.C. in my lifetime."
But in the end, this week, the Democratic Party leadership (including President Obama) have flip flopped and decided they don't want to expend political capital offending the anti-gun lobby either, after The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and its allies put the heat on Hoyer and Holmes Norton.
The conclusion: DC voters, 55% African American and mostly working class or poor, still have no Congressional voting rights 223 years after ratification of the Constitution. In contrast to the pro and anti-gun lobbies, they can be safely abused by a Democratic Party leadership that throughout this year and a third of waffling and disunity just hasn't given enough of a damn.