House Passes John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act


John Lewis

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Members of the House of Representatives passed the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act with a vote of 219-212. The bill, also known as H.R. 4, revitalizes a section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that was recently dismantled by the U.S. Supreme Court. The section in question required areas with long track records of racial injustice to clear any changes to voting laws with the U.S. Justice Department.

"It stands for a more just society, for a better democracy and today we voted for the future of America," Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Joyce Beatty said after the act was passed.

"Congressman John Lewis was an American hero who dedicated his life to fighting for our nation's highest ideals. Today, the House of Representatives honored Congressman Lewis by passing his namesake legislation, which restores and expands the historic Voting Rights Act. This important step represents progress, but there is more work to do. The Senate must pass the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act so it can become the law of the land and protect voters across the country," Vice President Kamala Harris added.

The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act will head to the Senate for a vote. While Democrats have supported the act, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has called it "unnecessary" as he believes it would give more power to the U.S. Justice Department.

"There's no threat to the voting rights law," McConnell said.

"I think it's unnecessary."

As it stands now, McConnell will likely have his way because the legislative filibuster requires any measure that hits the Senate floor must receive 60 votes to pass. With the Senate split evenly among the two parties, it is unlikely that the Democrats will get 10 Republicans to vote for the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The only way to bypass this 60-vote threshold in the Senate would be to eliminate the filibuster, something Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin have been unwilling to do.

"I will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster," Manchin wrote in an op-ed earlier this year.

"My support for retaining the 60-vote threshold is not based on the importance of any particular policy. It is based on what is best for our democracy. The filibuster compels moderation and helps protect the country from wild swings between opposing policy poles," Sinema wrote in a separate op-ed.

Still, every Capitol Hill reporter and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will spend the next few weeks asking Sineman and Manchin the following question: Will you vote to end the filibuster? More than likely, the measure will fall in the Senate and this process will begin all over again.

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