This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2006, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
WASHINGTON - Utah won't get a fourth House seat this year and residents of the District of Columbia will continue without a vote in Congress.
House leaders said Tuesday a measure to grant a seat each for D.C. and Utah will not come up this week during a lame-duck session.
Advocates of the legislation had made a full-court lobbying press on the Hill on Tuesday. But House leaders met later in the day and kept the measure off the table for the remaining three days of the current Congress.
Earlier Tuesday, a spokesman for House Majority Leader John Boehner reaffirmed 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 leaders decided there was not consensus to bring up the bill. 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 key to moving the bill, which is still stuck in his committee.
Utah House Speaker Greg Curtis said news of the bill's demise 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 that 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, "We missed a wonderful opportunity that a lot of people worked hard to make happen."
If Congress does not act on the bill, the measure will expire when Congress adjourns Friday and have to be reintroduced next year.
The co-sponsors of the measure, Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., and the District of Columbia's nonvoting delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, issued a joint news release saying they are still convinced voting rights "remain well within our grasp."
"It's tough to take after we, along with D.C. residents, had created so much momentum for this bipartisan bill," Davis and Norton said.
"We got it farther than anyone anticipated. We're disappointed not for ourselves but for residents of the district and Utah and all those who joined this fight for justice over the past four years."
But supporters of the legislation, including Davis, have promised to bring the issue back up when the Democrats take over Congress in January.
A spokeswoman for Norton said Utah would still be part of the legislation next year.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, set to become the House speaker in January, has "pledged her continuing support for D.C. voting rights," according to her spokesman, Drew Hammill.
Pelosi is a co-sponsor of the district-Utah bill.
A spokesman for Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. said his boss would continue to work to get the fourth seat Utah "deserves."
"We wish House leadership had made a different decision today," Mike Mower said, adding the office was still optimistic. "The week is not yet over and maybe they can reconsider adding this important item to the agenda."
Rep. Jim Matheson, Utah's lone Democrat in Congress, said while the failure of the bill was a setback, ''fortunately, a fourth seat for Utah is a sure thing in the next few years.''
The current legislation's untimely expiration comes after a big lobbying effort by District of Columbia residents and other organizations.
But the push apparently couldn't overcome constitutional concerns by some 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 Rohrabacher, 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.
Rohrabacher 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 Congress has broad discretion in legislation about governance of the district.