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The US House of Representatives passed the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act (HR 1905) Thursday, which could increase official House membership for the first time since 1960. The bill, which passed 241-177, would make the District of Columbia a congressional district with full voting rights in the House, and as a compromise with Republicans, add a temporary at-large seat for Utah. Utah came close but fell short of obtaining a new district after the 2000 census. The future of the bill in the less Democratically-dominated Senate is far from certain, however, and President George W. Bush has threatened a veto, calling the bill unconstitutional.

The District of Columbia currently has a delegate in the House, Eleanor Holmes Norton, who is able to vote in committee and on some amendments, but is not allowed to vote on the final passage of a bill. A February report by the Congressional Research Service flagged the potential unconstitutionality of any bill granting a House vote for the District, focusing on the language in Article I, Section 2, Clause 1 of the Constitution that the House is to be comprised by the "people of the several States."


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