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House Democrats Give Limited Voting Rights to Delegates

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posted on Jan, 24 2007 @ 05:23 PM
The Democrats are changing House rules to allow delegates from U.S. non-state territories to have limited voting power. To avoid Constitutional problems, the rules state that delegates can't cast deciding votes, but Republicans still protest saying the move is unconstitutional and is only meant to pad Democrat voting margins:

Washington Post

WASHINGTON -- Democrats on Wednesday pushed through a rules change giving limited voting rights on the House floor to the chamber's five nonstate delegates. Republicans described the move as an unconstitutional power grab.

With the 226-191 vote, delegates representing the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands and American Samoa can cast ballots on amendments. The lawmakers, however, will not be allowed to vote on final passage of legislation. If the delegates' votes decide the outcome of an amendment, the House immediately will vote again without the delegates' participation.

"This is symbolic. The delegates know it," said Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. "But it is an opportunity for them to participate."

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

As long as their votes don't really count, I don't see much problem with it. Adding a few votes to a winning total doesn't really mean much to the average person. But if they try to make a move to make these votes actually able to decide issues, it is clearly unconstitutional.

[edit on 1/24/2007 by djohnsto77]

posted on Jan, 25 2007 @ 12:18 AM
That's what I love about US Politics; you guys back me up when I miss news.

My take is not so much that this is the power grab that some Republicans in congress are claiming, but that it is a strategic move towards full voting rights.

In instances where they would have been deciding votes, which will cause an immediate second vote without them, Democrats will be able to make a media appeal that will be compelling to some in this country.

It's a sound strategy for drawing attention to what the delegates want.

Also, I find it amusing that Boehner called it "Representation without taxation", since D.C. has considered changing its motto to the inverse.

posted on Jan, 25 2007 @ 04:42 PM
Full Voting Rights? Vagabond you're a fool - the US is a "union of states" not territories, territories are governed not participants in the US system.

Take your crap somewhere else this is a blatant power grab it's affect is an attempt to further Democrat agendas through amendmentation of Bills that they prefer or dislike.


posted on Jan, 25 2007 @ 05:08 PM

Originally posted by FreiMaurer
Take your crap somewhere else this is a blatant power grab it's affect is an attempt to further Democrat agendas through amendmentation of Bills that they prefer or dislike.

Lets forget party politics. Surely the people of these territories deserve some kind of representation in government. You have representation so the status quo is "A ok" for you, but you will be the first one to want to be hard arse when these people start protesting. Hell you'll probably call them terrorists.

posted on Jan, 26 2007 @ 01:40 AM

Originally posted by FreiMaurer
Full Voting Rights? Vagabond you're a fool

That's the second time you've insulted me in your short time here. It will not happen again. If you hold me in any disdain, you'll not find me the least bit hesitant to match wits. I'll accept your challenge to a judged debate on any topic you wish. Name the topic, we'll choose sides, and we'll sort out your assessment of me in one great big hurry.

the US is a "union of states" not territories, territories are governed not participants in the US system.

I neither claimed not advocated otherwise.

Take your crap somewhere else

Can I borrow your hat for a moment?

this is a blatant power grab it's affect is an attempt to further Democrat agendas through amendmentation of Bills that they prefer or dislike.

The amendment process to bills is not substatially affected. Delegates may not cast deciding votes in the committee of the whole, but even before this rule change, they were allowed to vote in standing committees and conference committees. Thus without this rules change the Democrats, who control the rules committee, could have set the rules of debate such that amendments could not be made after committee, and could have channeled the bill to any committee they liked. This means that the Democratic power to use the delegates to their advantage in the process of amending bills is not actually enhanced.

Down the road, they will likely use news stories about votes in the committee of the whole which would have gone differently with full delegate voting rights in order to create the political capital they would need to pass a law allowing full representation, which would immediately go to the SCOTUS, where the SCOTUS would either say that only a state may be represented, or might find that Article 1, Section 2 of the US Constitution is not to be read exclusively, thus creating legislative discretion on the subject of allowing congressmen from territories under Article 4, Section 3.

I expect you to find this unlikely, however it is judicially possible. Remember that not even delegates are explicitly allowed by the constitution, yet there they are.

Since congress has the right to make its own rules, and since the Insular cases have generally given Congress the right under Article 4, Section 3 to determine the extent to which the constitution applies, it is not beyond the scope of possibility that the courts might allow further deviation from strict construction. I concede however that the court has hedged its bet a bit in the often customs-related Insular Cases, and that much of the language could easily be found to give congress only very narrow liberties in government. I also concede that the court rulings would be EXTREMELY questionable if they allowed full representation, since the argument could be made that the primary effect was not on the territory but on the union, and thus that Article 4 did not apply. I do however maintain that Article 4, section 3 could be used if popular sentiment reached an appropriate level, or if the democrats just took the time to build a court that reflected their beliefs on this matter.

Also, the SCOTUS ruled in Igartua de la Rosa v. United States that voting rights as affected by the evolution of territorial status were a political question not subject to SCOTUS jurisdiction and thus to be legislated upon by congress (note that this is a distinct argument from that relying on Article 4, as the very heart of the question is whether or not the area in question remains under territorial status at all). This opens up the possibility that when the Congress passed such a law, the SCOTUS might not grant Certiorari, meaning that as long as the Democrats had the political capital to weather the public opinion fallout, they could hope to win the issue in a walk.

from de la Rosa
"a determination of whether or not Puerto Rico's political status has evolved into 'de facto' statehood for the purposes of presidential elections would correspond to Congress . . . [and] . . . no standards exist by which a Court can or should decide what is or is not a 'de facto' state."

Right, wrong, or indifferent, that is what happening. I'm not taking sides on the legitimacy of what congress is doing, I'm analyzing. I will however take sides on the right of people to representation. On that matter I will say that because the Congress is legislating over those people (see the recent selective imposition of minimum wage laws) those people have a right to full representation and that if the courts find that this cannot be constitutionally achieved by the means I see the Democrats attempting at present, then the Democrats should go about it in one of the several ways that might remain proper.

posted on Jan, 26 2007 @ 04:47 AM
If Congress were to call it a "de facto" state then the territory would truly become a state, whether its citizens wanted it or not. This would give them full representation as a state in Congress and the electoral college, but also take away all the tax advantages its citizens have as remaining an unincorporated territory. It would force them to create a state government responsible for the things expected of other state governments, and would probably be very unpopular since Puerto Ricans have continually voted to remain a territory, neither wanting statehood nor independence.

[edit on 1/26/2007 by djohnsto77]

posted on Jan, 26 2007 @ 08:54 PM
That is very true DJ, and it would be patently illegal for the United States Congress to declare Puerto Rico a state without the mutual consent of Puerto Rico.

The hope would be that the SCOTUS will continue to deny jurisdiction, allowing congress to pick and choose which aspects of statehood might have evolved in this situation. It is unlikely that the current embodiment of the court would do that, but I do not believe that this is a short-term strategy.

It's also worth noting that even if the Democrats chose not to pursue this to the full theoretical extent that I have been outlining, they could certainly play the same issue up to mobilize certain ethnicities in elections. I'm sure they wouldn't mind a couple of thousand mad Puerto Ricans on their side in Florida come 2008.

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