WASHINGTON – President Bush plans to review a bill that would give District of Columbia residents full voting representation in the House, though he did not say whether he would support it.
Bush's comments Wednesday were the first time he has talked about the proposed legislation, introduced six months ago by Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, R-Va., and Democratic Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District's nonvoting representative. Norton can vote in committee but not on the House floor.
The bill — which local lawmakers are trying to get approved in upcoming weeks — would also add a congressional seat for Utah.
"It's the first I've heard of it," said Bush, responding to a question during a news conference at the White House. "I didn't know that's going to come up from the lame duck."
The president's remarks referred to the remaining few days of the current Congress, which returns to session next week and will adjourn before Thanksgiving. "Well, it may or may not come up. ... But I'll take a look at it," he said.
Emily Lawrimore, a White House spokeswoman, said Bush knew of the bill but wants to study it.
D.C. politicians and business leaders have pressed to get the bill passed this year.
Voting rights advocates hope Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. , a Wisconsin Republican and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, will move the bill to the floor for a vote. Davis and Norton have proposed that one seat go to Utah, which is predominantly Republican, and the other to the District, which is mostly Democratic.
Because the bill helps both parties, Norton anticipated that Bush would sign the bill if Congress approves. "The president will take his cue from what the Congress does," she said.
Davis talked to the president several months ago about the issue and followed up with a memo to the White House office, said Brian McNicoll, a Davis spokesman.
"This is a legacy issue," McNicoll said. "We're working hard on it. We're not done, and I do not see the president vetoing this."