WASHINGTON – In a speech on the Senate floor, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today called on his colleagues to support important voting rights legislation that will come before the Senate tomorrow. The Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act combines the bipartisan John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act with the Freedom to Vote Act.
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“Today, our democracy needs the Voting Rights Act of 1965 restored to its full power and potential. In the past year alone, Republican legislatures in nearly 20 states have enacted laws making it harder for Americans to vote. In total, more than 440 bills with voting restrictions have been introduced in 49 states, and more are on the way as the 2022 state legislative session gets under way,” Durbin said. “These efforts represent the most coordinated assault on voting rights since the Voting Rights Act was first passed under President Lyndon B. Johnson.”
Durbin continued, “The members of this Senate have a constitutional obligation to respond to these state voting laws. And that means ensuring that the constitutional right to vote is protected by federal law and fully enforceable. It also means establishing nationwide standards that ensure every eligible voter can participate in our democracy. These remedies and protections must be available in every state—red and blue—from New York to Arizona.”
Durbin concluded, “It hasn’t been that long since Republicans and Democrats stood together and agreed that this was the right thing to do, to make sure that there was no discrimination against American voters. The last time we did this was 16 years ago in 2006, and on a nearly unanimous basis… One of the Republicans who voted in support of it was the senior Senator from Kentucky, now the Republican Leader, who said at that time when he voted for the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act in 2006, ‘this is a piece of legislation that has worked.’ Well, let’s make sure it can keep working. I hope that my colleagues will come together in a bipartisan fashion and join us in supporting the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act as well as the Freedom to Vote Act. Join us in defending American democracy.”