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A press conference featuring Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Sen. Joe Lieberman, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty just wrapped up. All were in a suitably self-congratulatory mood over the D.C. House Voting Rights Act’s survival of cloture earlier today.
Said Norton, “We see all lights on go, and we can say with all confidence, there’s no turning back now.”
Earlier, the Senate minority leadership held a brief conference, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska explained her decision to vote for cloture. “The people of the District of Columbia have expressed quite clearly that they want this debate. I think we should have the debate,” she said. “I think it’s important for the people here to know that we’re having this debate.” (Incidentally, in a D.C. GOP press release, former council candidate Patrick Mara is taking credit for helping to swing Murkowski’s vote.)
But Murkowski opposes the DCHVRA on constitutional grounds, and will vote against final passage, she announced. She did express some support for constitutional amendment or retrocession options.
Before that, LL’s former City Paper colleague Ryan Grim was able to buttonhole Utah Sen. Robert Bennett to have him explain his flip from pro-DCVRA cloture to against. His reply: “The more I wrestled with the constitutional issues, the more I found it difficult to get them resolved. I had already planned to vote against the bill unless i could find a fix for them. When I couldn’t find a fix for them, I decided I had to be consistent.”
Fenty, in an interview after the press conference, said he’ll spend the next days lobbying for final passage of the bill, under direction from the Senate Democratic leadership. And just to get him on the record, LL asked Fenty if he had any plans to run for District of Columbia representative. His reply: “No.”