WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today proposed a constitutional amendment that could lead to a first-ever voting House seat for residents of the District of Columbia.

Murkowski said the District of Columbia deserves representation in the United States House of Representatives but that D.C. voting representation legislation under consideration in the Senate would almost certainly be declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. The constitutional amendment is an alternative to the Senate bill (S. 160, D.C. Voting Rights Act), which would add two seats to the 435-member House – one for the District of Columbia and one for Utah.


“The District of Columbia deserves representation in the House of Representatives, but S. 160 does not conclusively resolve the question of whether they will get it,” Murkowski said in a Senate floor speech.


The Constitution says that the House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen by the “people of the States.” But because the District of Columbia is not a state, Murkowski said she believes that Congress cannot legislate voting representation in the House for the residents of D.C.


Referring to Alaska’s own fight for statehood 50 years ago, Murkowski said she could appreciate “the pleas of the people of the District of Columbia.” 


“This senator believes we owe it to the people of the District of Columbia to get this right the first time,” she said. “A constitutional amendment, passed by the Congress and ratified by the states, settles the matter of D.C. voting rights conclusively. S. 160 does not.”