This was a vote on tabling (killing) a Democratic proposal that would have required a special committee (made up of five members of Congress – 3 Republicans and 2 Democrats) to determine whether a Republican resolution eliminating all voting rights on the House floor for delegates from the District of Columbia and U.S. territories was constitutional.
When Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives in 2011 (following the 2010 midterm elections), they brought up a resolution revising the procedural rules of the House (known as a “rules package”). One of the Republicans’ proposed changes to House rules eliminated all House floor voting rights for delegates from the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands. (Delegates, however, were still permitted to vote in committees.) When Republicans brought up their House rules package, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C) offered a motion to require a special committee made up of 3 Republicans and 2 Democrats to determine the constitutionality of eliminating voting rights for delegates from the constituencies listed above. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) then made a motion to table (kill) Norton’s motion.
There was no debate on Norton’s proposal or Cantor’s motion to table it. The New York Times reported, however, that Norton told a crowd of “voting rights advocates” the following: “If we don’t stop this assault now, it will develop into a full-scale war on home rule for the District of Columbia.” A press release put out by Norton’s office also said: "With this motion, we formally begin the protest that will be necessary to salvage what D.C. has won in the past.”
The Washington Post reported that a spokesman for Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) argued that Republicans eliminated those voting rights because “they constitutionally cannot vote on the House floor." The Associated Press quoted Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) as saying "It's very apparent to me that we need to focus on the Constitution and (under the Constitution) states are to be represented in the House of Representatives.”
The House voted to table (kill) Norton’s motion by a vote of 225-188. All Republicans present voted “yea.” All 188 Democrats present voted “nay.” As a result, the House killed a motion that would have required a special committee (made up of five members of Congress – 3 Republicans and 2 Democrats) to determine whether a Republican resolution eliminating all voting rights on the House floor for delegates from the District of Columbia and U.S. territories was constitutional.