Few people on the streets of the District of Columbia would recognize Nevada Sen. John Ensign among all the well-dressed and well-coiffed professionals in town. But Ensign has been playing a big role lately in matters affecting the locals.
Replaying the periodic clash between conservatives and liberals on the issue of school vouchers, the conservative Ensign defended the district’s program that allows low-income children to attend private schools.
He lost that one this week, as the Democrat-controlled Senate voted to set the program aside for review after this school year. The argument against vouchers is that they shift resources and public support away from publicly funded education, and President Obama is unenthusiastic about them.
More notably, Ensign last month was successful in adding an amendment to a District of Columbia voting rights bill that stripped down the district’s gun laws that are among the toughest in the nation. The 62-36 vote included support from 22 rural-state Democrats. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. was among them.
It was called a killer amendment to the bill that seeks to give DC a vote in the House. That might prove to be true as district officials so far have been unable to figure out a way around it, and the bill is in limbo.
While it is unlikely that DC elected officials will be inviting Ensign to attend Redskins games with them, the issue has burnished his credentials with the gun rights folks.
This is all the long way of pointing Political Eye readers to this opinion piece in the Washington Post this morning in which Ensign defends his foray into local gun laws.