The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) released the following statement after the House passed H.R.4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act, critical legislation to restore the full strength of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA).
“The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy. Yet from the founding of our nation, we have struggled to extend the franchise to all. During the civil rights movement, courageous Americans fought in the courts, marched, agitated, and gave the ‘last full measure of devotion’ for all of us to exercise this precious right. Now, nearly 55 years after the Voting Rights Act (VRA) enshrined the sacred right to vote into law, access to the ballot box is under unprecedented threat.
The disastrous 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby v. Holder gutted the VRA’s ability to combat voter suppression and discrimination. Since then, at least 23 states have enacted voter suppression laws, including voter purges, strict ID requirements, poll closures and curtailing of early voting hours. The decision unleashed a partisan voter suppression campaign across America that is silencing the Black vote.
But today, House democrats took decisive action to restore the Voting Rights Act and block discriminatory voter suppression laws designed to keep Americans from participating in the electoral process. The Voting Rights Advancement Act includes provisions that promote transparency by mandating reasonable public notice for voting changes. It also grants the Attorney General the authority to request the presence of federal observers anywhere in the country to prevent voter suppression efforts and to address race discrimination in the voting process.
The Congressional Black Caucus is proud to have this bill championed by two of our very own: Representative Terri Sewell, sponsor of the bill, and Representative Marcia Fudge, Chair of the Elections Subcommittee that collected testimony and evidence on the state of voting rights in America today. The bill was also passed with the guidance and support of House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn and civil rights icon John Lewis. We have collectively done our part. Now we call on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to put patriotism over party and pass H.R.4 to ensure all Americans have access to their constitutionally guaranteed right to vote.”