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Gibbs: Obama is "committed" to DC Voting Rights

by Paul Fidalgo // Published July 2, 2009
In case you missed it (I certainly did), White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on Monday unexpectedly reiterated the president's position on an issue close to our hearts. From the briefing transcript:
Q:    Can I ask you one more question, just quickly, on sort of a D.C. issue?  And that is, why hasn't the President changed his license plates on the presidential limousine?  Is he planning to change them to the "Taxation Without Representation" plates or --

MR. GIBBS:  I think rather than change the logo around the license plate, the President is committed instead to changing the status of the District of Columbia.

He is? It's not news to us that President Obama is in favor of DC voting rights; he's an original co-sponsor of that very bill, and he has quietly expressed support for statehood. But since the apparent death of the latest version of the DC Voting Rights bill, few expected this:
Q:    . . . When you say "changing the status of the District," what do you mean?

MR. GIBBS:  Giving it voting rights, giving it statehood.

We haven't heard this expressed this succinctly in a while, and it's fairly encouraging. Of course, one must keep in mind that Gibbs was trying to dance around the question about the president's limo. But certainly, Gibbs is essentially correct that the president's policy regarding voting rights is far more important than what is on the back of his car.

That said, I became a bit more confused when the exchange took this turn:

Q:    What are you guys doing on that?

MR. GIBBS:  I think the legislation is making its way through Congress, with the support of the President.

Well, to the best of our knowledge here at FairVote, it's not making its way through Congress, as the latest DC Voting Rights bill was besieged by an amendment eviscerating DC's gun laws, dooming the bill to near-oblivion -- a comatose state certified last month by Steny Hoyer when negotiations fell apart. But perhaps Mr. Gibbs knows something I don't (not by any means out of the question). It would be terribly exciting to know that a renewed effort was being waged on behalf of the District. One can hope.

Last week the LA Times, not content to let the issue fall off the radar, sharply suggested that the person to "push this issue to the forefront" should probably be the District's "most celebrated resident." I hope that the president was listening. But regardless, it's good to hear such clear support from the White House for the enfranchisement of the citizens of the nation's capital, whatever the context. What we need to see next is this support put into action.