Republicans proved their hostility to voting rights again this week when not a single one of them voted for the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act in the House on Tuesday.
The bill would re-establish protections the conservative majority on the Supreme Court struck down several years ago when they weakened the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
It is named after Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who passed away just over a year ago. Lewis was brutally beaten by police for trying to march across the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama during the Civil Rights Movement, so it’s only fitting that the bill is named in his honor as the fight against voter suppression drags on.
By a 219-212 vote, the House passed the legislation on Tuesday, but not one Republican voted for it, making it clear that every Republican in the Senate will likely do the same because the GOP cannot win elections without suppressing the vote, which a Republican lawyer has admitted in court.
Red states across the country have passed voter suppression laws. The John Lewis bill would wipe many of those laws off the books and restore voting rights.
In a statement, bill sponsor Rep. Terry Sewell (D-Ala.) hailed the fight to protect democracy.
“Nothing is more fundamental to our democracy than the right to vote,“ Sewell said. “It was in my district that ordinary Americans peacefully protested for the equal right to vote for all Americans. All battles have indeed become new again. While literacy tests and poll tax no longer exist, certain states and local jurisdictions have passed laws that are modern-day barriers to voting. So as long as voter suppression exists, the need for full protections of the VRA will continue.”
The fight to protect voting rights now moves to the Senate, but would require the end of the filibuster for passage, something Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) opposes even though he claims to support the John Lewis bill. It’s time for him to put up or shut up.
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