Late this afternoon the U.S. Senate voted 61-37 to give the District of Columbia a regular seat in the House of Representatives. (See the NRO editorial here.) With amendments added alternately forbidding the revival of the “fairness doctrine” by the FCC (offered by DeMint, R-SC) and “encourag[ing] and promot[ing] diversity in communication media ownership” (offered by Durbin, D-IL), plus another protecting the rights of gun owners in D.C. (offered by Ensign, R-NV), the Senate bill is now loaded with baggage that may make for an interesting conference with the House when it passes its own bill next week. (I won’t say “if” that bill passes, for it surely will.)
The amendments also make motives for a few of the final votes hard to sort out, until more news trickles out about what senators may have said on the floor. Two Democrats voted against final passage: Baucus (MT) and Byrd (WV), while six Republicans voted for it: Collins (ME), Hatch (UT), Lugar (IN), Snowe (ME), Specter (PA), and Voinovich (OH). Interestingly, since Utah is set to benefit, though perhaps only temporarily, from this bill, Senator Robert Bennett voted against it. Good for you, Senator.
And while I’m at it, I retract my “shame on you” from a few weeks ago not only in Bennett’s case, but in the case of House member Jason Chaffetz of Utah’s third district, whose opposition to creating a D.C. House seat was noted on Fox News tonight. I apologize for my attack on you, gentlemen, and I thank you for doing the right thing.
The assault on the Constitution in this fraudulent “voting rights” bill is one of the most disgraceful episodes in recent congressional history. I’ll give the last word to Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, on the floor today: “Any proposal to secure the right to vote must honor the Constitution, which Lincoln called the ‘only safeguard of our liberties.’ Anything less would violate the oath we’ve sworn to uphold . . .”
That’s just what 61 senators did today.