When I visited Washington, D.C., in 2007, I was surprised to see legal license plates bearing the phrase “taxation without representation.” While that phrase accurately reflects the situation for the 600,000 residents of the nation’s capital – they pay federal income taxes despite having no vote in the U.S. House or the U.S. Senate – I didn’t think the federal government would allow such lobbying against itself on a license plate.

That may become a moot point soon, after the U.S. Senate voted 61-37 Thursday to add two seats to the U.S. House of Representatives – a first one for the Democratic-leaning District of Columbia and a fourth one for Republican-leaning Utah. The bill does not provide for Washington, D.C., to have representation in the U.S. Senate, though some opponents of the measure say it could lead to that.

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to pass the bill with a strong majority next week, and President Obama has promised to sign it. That’s one way to silence the calls from the D.C. Council and others for Obama to put “Taxation Without Representation” license plates on the presidential limousine. Not that Obama doesn’t support the measure – he was cosponsor of a similar bill that failed to pass the U.S. Senate two years ago.

A legal challenge is expected if the bill becomes law. (The New York Times published a good article explaining the bill and the arguments against it, which can be found here.)

In the meantime, the D.C. Council might want to start thinking about what to do with all those “Taxation Without Representation” license plates in case the law sticks.

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