After three days of debate, the United States Senate approved the D.C. Voting Rights Act of 2009 by a margin of 61 to 37 votes on Feb. 26.
The measure, Senate Bill 160, would increase the number of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives from 435 to 437, adding one for the District of Columbia and one for Utah.
Utah is the next state in line to receive an additional U.S. House seat based on 2000 census figures.
On Thursday, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah hailed the historic, bipartisan vote. The legislation was introduced by Lieberman and Hatch in the Senate and District of Columbia delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton in the U.S. House on the first day of the 111th Congress.
"This is a moment of joy and progress," commented Lieberman. "Finally, the citizens who live in the capital of the free world will have the right to exercise the most basic freedom - the right to choose who governs them. This historic vote is another step on our long march to make our democracy ever more inclusive. I thank my friend, Sen. Hatch, for his principled and steadfast support of this bill. His commitment to join in this historic change puts him up there with other great Republican senators like Everett Dirksen, who worked with Democratic President Lyndon Johnson to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1964. I also want to thank Sen. Reid for his unwavering support and assistance in passing this bill."
Lieberman serves as Homeland Security and governmental affairs committee chairman.
"Participating in the election of those who govern us is at the heart of our American system of self-government. It is a right for which generations of Americans have fought and died to preserve. So I'm pleased with the passage of this historic legislation that will ensure that my home state of Utah and residents of the District of Columbia get the representation in the House that they require and richly deserve. And I commend my esteemed colleague, Sen. Lieberman, for his leadership and foresight on this issue," noted Hatch.
The U.S. House's judiciary committee reported out a similar bill last Wednesday. The full House is expected to vote on the measure and pass similar legislation in the immediate future.
Following the U.S. House of Representatives vote, the two versions of the act will have to be reconciled, according to the federal officials.
Republican and Democratic co-sponsors of S-160 included the following U.S. senators:
Tom Carper of Delaware.
Chris Dodd of Connecticut.
Richard Durbin of Illinois.
Russell Feingold of Wisconsin.
Edward Kennedy and John Kerry of Massachusetts.
Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.
Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey.
Patrick Leahy and Bernard Sanders of Vermont.
Carl Levin of Michigan.
Claire McCaskill of Missouri.
Barbara Mikulski of Maryland.
George Voinovich of Ohio.
Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.
Chuck Schumer of New York.