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Activists Continue Push For Voting Rights Despite Capitol Hill Lull

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By Peter Granitz

Bolstered by the beginning of gay marriage in the District, some home rule advocates are pushing to resume the debate on D.C. voting rights again.

Anise Jenkins’s, Stand Up for Democracy, opposes any incremental approach-that means she wants to scrap the current bill making its way through Congress.

The House passed one version granting the District one voting member. It passed the Senate with an amendment overturning D.C.’s handgun ban but has since stalled in the House Rules Committee.

Jenkins says passing a bill won’t be any easier after November’s midterm elections - so Congress needs to act before then. She wants D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton to widen the scope of the current bill and push for statehood.

"You never ask for less than what you want. If they want to give you a crumb, you may take it or you may not. But never ask for less than what you want and less than you deserve," says Jenkins.

Still, some are pushing a more moderate approach - like Illir Zherka, the executive director of D.C. Vote. He’s trying to keep the bill in the House Rules Committee until House leaders find a way to bring the bill forward without Nevada Senator Jon Ensign’s gun amendment.

“We are about protecting the city’s local democracy and strengthening it. The Ensign amendment would clearly do neither one of those things. It’d be a violation of local control,” says Zherka.

Zherka says he’s hoping the bill will come forward in the next couple of weeks, but would not give a definite time frame.

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