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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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FRESHFARM workers ratify union agreement
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 15, 2024

Obama urges Congress to give D.C. voting rights

President Barack Obama offered those living in D.C. his support for their voting rights in a message delivered on D.C. Emancipation Day on Friday.

Obama urged members of Congress to pass legislation extending representation for residents in the District:

Americans from all walks of life are gathering in Washington today to remind members of Congress that although DC residents pay federal taxes and serve honorably in our armed services, they do not have a vote in Congress or full autonomy over local issues. And so I urge Congress to finally pass legislation that provides DC residents with voting representation and to take steps to improve the Home Rule Charter.

D.C. Emancipation Day marks the day in 1862 when D.C. slaves were freed by President Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Compensated Emancipation Act. It became an official holiday in 2005, and D.C. government offices and schools close in celebration each April 16.

The Washington Post has reported a D.C. voting rights bill could be brought to the House floor as early as next week.

Last year a voting rights bill passed the Senate, but a gun amendment in the legislation that would repeal many local D.C. gun laws stalled the bill.

The latest version of the bill is expected to still include the gun amendment language. In a statement this week, D.C.’s non-voting delegate in Congress, Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton, addressed the controversy over the gun amendment.

“I have given this fight all that I had. There is nothing left to do but make the hard decision. I believe residents would not want us to pass up this once-in-a-life-time opportunity for the vote they have sought for more than two centuries,” Norton said.

Norton’s efforts  have the support of D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, even with the gun amendment language, according to the Post.

A spokeswoman for GW alumnus and D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray told the Post that he would not support the legislation if it took away the council’s right to legislate firearms restrictions, however.

In her statement Norton confirmed that she expects the D.C. House Voting Rights Act to come to before the House Thursday.

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