Home National news Senate leaders, Civil Rights advocates unite to reinforce voting protections

Senate leaders, Civil Rights advocates unite to reinforce voting protections

Leaders said as the nation reflects on the sacrifices of civil rights champions like the late Rep. John Lewis, the call resounds for every member of Congress to endorse pivotal democracy bills (photo courtesy of <iStockphoto/NNPA>)

In a press briefing on February 29, Senate leaders, alongside civil rights advocates, announced the reintroduction of S.4, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, aimed at safeguarding voting rights and fortifying the nation’s democratic foundations.

According to U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on March 12 to discuss the growing threats to voting rights and the need for federal voting safeguards.

Leaders said as the nation reflects on the sacrifices of civil rights champions like the late Rep. John Lewis, the call resounds for every member of Congress to endorse pivotal democracy bills, including the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, the Freedom to Vote Act, and the Native American Voting Rights Act.

“This year’s presidential election will be the first since Republican-led state legislatures passed a wave of restrictive voting laws,” Durbin said. “As members of Congress, we have an obligation to defend our democracy against these attacks on our fundamental right to vote.”

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York emphasized what he called the vital role of a robust democratic foundation. “To make real progress on the issues we care about, the foundation of democracy must be strong,” Schumer stated. “The hard right is trying to cut those efforts off at the knees, making it harder for people to participate in democracy and be represented.”

Georgia Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock, underscored the legislation’s importance in preserving democracy. “Let’s protect the sacred right. We’ve got to get this done in the spirit and in the name of John Lewis and because our democracy itself is at stake,” Warnock said.

Maya Wiley, president/CEO of The Leadership Conference, emphasized the non-partisan nature of the cause. “This is not about partisanship. This is about people having power. That is why we need the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act,” Wiley said.

Others from various civil rights organizations also weighed in, with John C. Yang of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC urging Congress to support the change, and Damon Hewitt of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law stressing the need for a democracy that works for everyone.

“Voters are demanding better from their representatives, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act must be the response,” said Deirdre Schifeling, chief political advocacy officer of ACLU.

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