Guam – Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo joined fellow delegates lost their appeal to block GOP attempts deprive them of their floor voting rights.
In a release, Bordallo states that in recent weeks leading up to Wednesday’s swearing in of the new GOP controlled congress, Republican leaders crafted a rules package that included a provision rescinding the ability of delegates to cast symbolic votes on the floor during Committee of the Whole proceedings.
D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton made a motion to refer the rules package to a committee that would investigate the constitutionality of delegate voting rights. Her motion was supported by Congresswoman Bordallo, Congressman Eni Faleomavaega of American Samoa, Congresswoman Donna Christensen of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Congressman Pedro Pierluisi of Puerto Rico, and Congressman Kilili Sablan of the CNMI.
Congresswoman Norton’s motion was tabled by a vote of 225 yeas to 188 noes.
House Resolution 5 eventually passed Wednesday night by a vote of 240 yeas to 191 noes thus depriving the Delegates and Resident Representative from the right to vote in Committee of the Whole.
Delegates were first granted voting privileges in 1993 under the leadership of Speaker of the House Tom Foley of Washington in the 103rd Congress. The Republican majority removed delegate voting privileges in the 104th Congress. Subsequently, the 110th Congress, under Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, restored those voting rights. This is the second time that the ability of delegates to cast votes has been rescinded.
The release quotes Congresswoman Bordallo as saying:
“The Republican rules package makes this body less transparent and less responsive to the American people. By obligating the Delegates to take public stands, our limited vote showed our constituents where we stood on important issues. Our vote also helped ensure legislation considered by the House took our constituents into account.”
“When an amendment came forward last Congress regarding the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo into the U.S, the territories were initially excluded from the prohibition. Our vote compelled the House to address our concerns.”
“This is precisely how representative democracy is meant to work. Further, men and women from the territories and the District of Columbia serve and have died for our country in the Armed Forces to protect our way of life. Yet, despite all the rhetoric of restoring democracy to the House of Representatives, the Republicans first act is to deny us a basic function of democracy – the right to represent our constituents and vote in the House of Representatives.”