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Posted: 3:59 PM- WASHINGTON - Utah won't get a fourth House seat this year and residents of the District of Columbia will continue to have no full- voting member in Congress.
House leaders said Tuesday a measure to grant both seats will not come up this week.
Advocates of the legislation had made a full-court press on the Hill today, lobbying members to support the bill. But House leaders met later in the day and kept the measure off the table for the remaining three days of the lame-duck session.
Earlier Tuesday, a spokesman for House Majority Leader John Boehner reaffirmed that the bill is not coming up. "That hasn't changed," spokesman Kevin Madden said.
Ilir Zherka, executive director of the advocacy group DC Vote, said leadership decided there was not a consensus to bring the bill up this week. But Zherka said the group was still going to "push back."
"It's not what we want to hear and we're not going to accept it right now," he said.
The decision by House leaders came less than 24 hours after the Utah Legislature met in special session in a hurried effort to pass a four-seat map as requested by U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis.
Sensenbrenner said passing the map was a prerequisite to moving the bill, which is still stuck in his committee.
Utah House Speaker Greg Curtis said the news was "disappointing."
"We were fully aware going into it, based on rumors, that it was not a foregone conclusion," Curtis said. Still, he added, "I don't think it's a waste of time. It's never a waste of time to prepare for contingencies."
Utah, a Republican haven which barely lost out on a fourth seat after the 2000 Census, was added to the bill to balance a seat for the district, which is heavily Democratic.
Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, said in a statement that "this is hard news to get," and even though he says it's not over until Congress adjourns, he will continue to work on the measure next year.
"We missed a wonderful opportunity that a lot of people worked hard to make happen," Cannon said.
If Congress does not act on the bill, the measure will expire when Congress adjourns on Friday and have to be reintroduced next year.
But supporters of the legislation, including its sponsor, Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., have promised to bring the issue back up when the Democrats take over Congress in January.
A spokeswoman for the District of Columbia's nonvoting delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, said Utah would still be part of the legislation next year.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, set to become House Speaker in January, has "pledged her continuing support for D.C. voting rights," according to her spokesman. Pelosi is a co-sponsor of the district-Utah bill.
The current legislation's death comes after a big lobbying push by District of Columbia residents and other organizations. But the effort apparently couldn't overcome constitutional concerns by some Congress members.
"The Constitution clearly provides how congressmen and senators are allocated to states," Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., said in a statement. "The federal city is not a state."
Rep. Dana Rohrbacher, R-Calif., also has questions about the bill, according to his chief of staff, Rick Dykema. "We believe that the Constitutional basis is just flawed," Dykema said.
Rohrbacher has introduced legislation, and will reintroduce it next year, Dykema said, that would allow residents of the district to vote in Maryland federal elections and also give Utah a fourth House seat to balance another Maryland seat essentially for the district.
Some scholars have said the measure could violate the Constitution's directive that members of the House come "from the several states." Other Constitutional experts disagreed, saying that Congress has broad discretion over the district.