‘Now the Senate must act’: Progressives applaud House passage of John Lewis voting rights bill

“As long as we let the filibuster stand, this necessary bill will be stuck in the Senate,” warned Congresswoman Jayapal. “It’s your right to vote or the filibuster.”

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SOURCECommon Dreams
The late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) was arrested by U.S. Capitol Police after blocking First Street NW in front of the U.S. Capitol at a demonstration for immigrants' rights in 2013. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Progressive lawmakers and outside voting rights advocates heralded passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act in the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday evening and immediately called on the U.S. Senate to complete the job by doing the same.

“At this pivotal moment for the future of our country, the House has taken a critical step to prevent states from passing voting laws that discriminate against racial minorities,” said Trevor Potter, president of Campaign Legal Center (CLC), after the vote. “Now the pressure is on the Senate to act.”

According to Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause, the legislation—which passed the House along party lines in a 219 to 212 vote—must be coupled with the For The People Act in order to insulate the nation’s democratic system from a coordinated attack by Republicans nationwide who are making it harder to vote.

“The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, in conjunction with the For the People Act, will brunt the coordinated effort by Republican state legislatures across the country to silence Black and Brown voters who showed up in record numbers in the 2020 elections,” said Hobert Flynn. “Just as it took the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to break the original Jim Crow laws, it will take these bills to roll back the New Jim Crow era.”

With the U.S. Senate currently in recess, progressive members of the House like Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) called on their colleagues in the upper chamber to waste no time and allow no hurdles—including the filibuster—to stand in their way of passing the bill once they return to the capital.

“The House just passed HR 4, restoring the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But our work isn’t done,” tweeted Ocasio-Cortez after the vote. “The Senate must also pass HR 1, which would enact automatic voter registration, vote-by-mail, and early voting in every state. It also ends partisan gerrymandering, and much more.”

“As Republicans across the country work to advance racist voter suppression laws, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, along with the For the People Act, are vital to saving our democracy,” Jones said in a statement.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, was among those who emphasized that the filibuster must be jettisoned if it continues to stand in the way of necessary voting rights.

Jesselyn McCurdy, who serves as interim executive vice president of government affairs of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said the current fight for voting rights could not be more vital.

“Nothing is more fundamental to American democracy than the freedom to vote,” McCurdy said Tuesday evening.

“The House today took a major step toward protecting this sacred right by passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act,” she added. “While the 2013 Shelby County decision gutted the Voting Rights Act, the Supreme Court invited Congress to update the law, which is precisely what this critically important legislation does. Congress has been supplied with powerful and incontrovertible evidence of how racial discrimination still exists in voting, and it is imperative that the Senate move expeditiously to pass this legislation and protect the freedom to vote for all.”

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