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Ilir Zherka, executive director of DC Vote, sent out this message to his organization’s supporters on Monday afternoon, following The Washington Post‘s weekend article about how any District voting rights legislative efforts on Capitol Hill are essentially dead. (The Post‘s headline has a qualifier: “For D.C. voting rights, window appears closed.”) Here’s Zherka’s message:
We have heard it before: “DC voting rights is dead.” That is what people said after the House failed to take up a bill in 2006 and after Senators filibustered in 2007. After each of those setbacks, we regrouped and push forward. Not only did we keep the DC Voting Rights Act alive, we also secured more votes for the bill each time we “resurrected” it from the ashes.
Now a Washington Post article argues that, in light of Republican control of the House in the next Congress, the ‘window on voting rights has closed’ for the next ten years. Defeatist sentiments like these were wrong before and they are wrong now.
If recent elections have taught us anything, it is that such bold blanket predictions of the political future are almost always incorrect. None of us know what lies in store for the next two years, much less the next ten.
DC Vote, working with our allies in Congress and the DC government, will look for new opportunities to advance voting rights. We will not give up just because the fight is getting harder.
But, our fight is about more than voting rights. It is about obtaining full democracy and full citizenship for DC residents.
While DC did not obtain a full vote in the House, we made many other significant advances. For the first time in a long time, this Congress passed DC’s budget bills without riders limiting DC’s Home Rule authority. That success is a direct result of the collective work of the DC democracy movement.
Yes, we will have a harder time with the next Congress. Some Republicans have promised to roll back the Home Rule gains we have made. Let’s continue working together to retain DC’s local democracy and advance pro-democracy legislation.