Las Vegas Sun

March 27, 2015

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John Ensign, Harry Reid play role in bill over guns, D.C. voting rights

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WASHINGTON -- Nevada's two senators played a pivotal role in today's quiet defeat of a long-championed effort to give residents of the District of Columbia a voting member of Congress.

Advocates of the District voting rights bill decided to postpone this week's House vote on the measure after being unable to accept pro-gun provisions tacked onto the bill.

Republican Sen. John Ensign all but doomed the voting bill when he attached an amendment that would overturn the District's strict laws against assault rifles and firearms. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, also a strong Second Amendment advocate, led the bill's passage from the Senate last year with the gun provision.

As the House prepared to take up the legislation this week, advocates of D.C. voting rights said they could not bear the gun provisions, as well as new gun measures being proposed in the House, and decided instead to temporarily shelve the voting rights bill.

"This was the most promising opportunity in a generation to achieve our goal," said a statement from DC Vote, an organizing promoting voting rights in the distict. "DC Vote believes the gun amendment is a prime example of why we need voting rights in DC - to prevent intrusions such as this."

Ensign and Reid's roles have not gone unnoticed. The Washington Post, in its lead editorial on Sunday, said no bill would be better than this one with the gun provisions.

The Post took note of Ensign, the gun amendment's "disgraced and morally craven author," and said Reid "enabled -- indeed, voted for -- this dangerous gun measure."

The District has one non-voting member of of the House and is seeking full representation similar to the states. The bill would have offered a full seat to the Democratic-leaning District as well as one to Republican-heavy Utah, which narrowly missed adding a seat during the last reapportionment.

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