WASHINGTON -- The Senate just passed legislation to give the District of Columbia a vote in the House, moving the capital city closer than it's ever been before to getting meaningful representation in Congress.
The 61-37 vote sends the issue to the House, where lawmakers are expected to vote next week to expand the chamber to 437 seats, adding one for D.C. and one for Utah (until the 2010 Census, when the Utah one could go to another state). Naturally, the Senate couldn't resist meddling with the District while it was at it; an amendment by Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., repealing the city's gun laws, was adopted just before the final vote. That's no surprise, given Congress's long history of interfering with District affairs. This is, after all, the same legislature that forbids the District from charging a commuter tax, then complains that the federal government has to provide too much of the local budget.
It's unclear whether the courts will let the measure stand, assuming it becomes law. Republicans (and some Democrats) say the Constitution only allows states to be represented in Congress, and though D.C. is treated as a state for the purpose of many federal laws, that might undo the vote. But the Senate was where the D.C. voting bill died two years ago, and passage there today virtually assures the legislation will make it into law.