House on track to pass voting rights bill with slim Senate chances

The House voted on Tuesday to restore federal oversight of state election laws, starting a push by Democrats to strengthen the landmark ...


The House voted on Tuesday to restore federal oversight of state election laws, starting a push by Democrats to strengthen the landmark 1965 voting rights law as part of a nationwide fight for access to the ballot box.

The legislation, named after deceased civil rights icon Georgia Rep. John Lewis, is a pillar of Democrats’ strategy to fight voting restrictions in Republican-led states. This would overturn two Supreme Court rulings that gutted the law, reviving the power of the Justice Department to prevent certain discriminatory electoral changes from coming into force and making it easier to challenge others in court.

Faced with urgent deadlines ahead of next year’s midterm elections, Democrats passed measure 219-212 along party lines in a rare August session, just days after the draft was tabled of law. But strong Republican opposition awaits in the Senate, where a possible filibuster threatens to sink the bill before it can reach President Biden’s office.

This result becomes familiar this summer, as Democrats on Capitol Hill attempt to use their party’s control over Congress and the White House to lock in the decisive electoral changes – only to be blocked by their Republican counterparts. Meanwhile, more than a dozen GOP-led states have already enacted more than 30 laws, making it more difficult to vote.

The frustration over this dynamic has fueled increasingly desperate calls by progressives and many mainstream Democrats to invoke the so-called nuclear option and eliminate the 60-vote threshold for obstruction in the Senate. This would allow Democrats to move unilaterally without the support of Republicans, but any rule change would require the support of all 50 House Democrats, and the main moderates are against it.

During debate ahead of Tuesday’s vote, supporters of the bill, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, touted it as an essential complement to Democrats’ other major election bill, the People’s Law. Even more ambitious, this legislation would set new national standards to make voting easier, end partisan gerrymandering and fight black money.

“The old battles have indeed become new again,” said Representative Terri Sewell of Alabama, the Democrat who represents Selma and drafted the bill. “While literacy tests and voting taxes no longer exist, some states and local jurisdictions have passed laws that are modern barriers to voting. “

Lawmakers drafted the corrective voting rights law to respond directly to a pair of Supreme Court rulings in which a conservative majority struck down or weakened key parts of the law.

The first happened in 2013, when the judges of the Shelby County v. Holder effectively struck down a provision requiring states and jurisdictions with a history of discriminatory electoral practices to receive prior approval from the federal government for any changes to their electoral rules.

The court specifically ruled that the formula used to determine which entities should be subject to such requirements was outdated, and said Congress should update it to be constitutional. The bill debated on Tuesday proposes an updated and expanded coverage plan.

The bill also tries to overturn a Supreme Court ruling last month in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee which targeted a separate section of the law and made it more difficult to successfully challenge voting changes as discriminatory in court.

Republicans have enthusiastically supported extensions to the voting rights law in the past. But since the 2013 court ruling, they have shown little appetite to revive parts of the law that were struck down, arguing that the kind of racial discrimination the law was originally designed to combat does not exist. more.

During the debate, Rep. Rodney Davis, Republican of Illinois, cited statistics showing a record turnout among black voters in the 2020 election, a far cry from the low percentages that were able to vote in many states in the United States. South in the 1960s.

“Not only is our country not facing a new era of Jim Crow voting laws, as many of my fellow Democrats have argued, but it is incredibly offensive to lie to the American people to advance a political agenda,” Mr Davis said.

“We must celebrate this progress, not ignore it,” he added.

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Newsrust - US Top News: House on track to pass voting rights bill with slim Senate chances
House on track to pass voting rights bill with slim Senate chances
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