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Washington, D.C. Officials Push Congress for Voting Rights

Washington, D.C. residents and officials are lobbying the House of Represenatives to get a voting member. The NewsHour reports on the fight for voting rights in the nation's capital.

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  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Thousands of Washingtonians, including long-time activist Reverend Graylan Hagler, turned out this afternoon to rally for the right to a full vote in Congress, something residents here have never had.

    REV. GRAYLAN HAGLER, Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ: It's a continued, nagging issue for us, because we live, like anybody else, in the United States. We have our homes; we have our neighborhoods; we have our aspirations, our hopes, and our dreams that can be shifted by anybody else. And we don't have the power or the voice or the vote to begin to hold back the types of political agenda that is often thrust upon us.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    The federal government, which has governing control over the District of Columbia — D.C., as it's known — allows the city's residents to send one delegate to Congress. For the last 17 years, Eleanor Holmes Norton has been that person. She is permitted to vote in committee, but lacks full voting power on the House floor where final legislation is approved.

    DEL. ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON (D), D.C. House Delegate: My constituents want the vote, because on major issues they feel deeply, and they feel denied. They feel denied when they can't open the paper and find out how their representative voted on x, y, z.

    They believe in democracy. They believe that, if I could vote, they could have an effect on issues. And they're mad that they're not allowed to have that effect.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Norton represents the nearly 600,000 people who make up the district, three-quarters of whose registered voters are Democrats. More than half the population is black.

    Despite rising property values and a booming downtown economy in Washington today, Norton, the city council, and several mayors have struggled over the years to deal with crime waves, high unemployment, and poor schools.

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