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Legislative Updates

John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act introduced in House

Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) introduced the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4) today. The bill would combat voter discrimination by restoring the protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that have been cut back after a pair of Supreme Court decisions.

The bill would include an updated formula for determining which states and localities are subject to federal oversight based on any recent history of voter discrimination. It would restore the portion of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that requires specific states to pre-clear certain changes to their voting laws and redistricting criteria with the federal government. The legislation comes as lawmakers seek to combat a wave of new restrictive election laws that have been recently introduced in primarily Republican-controlled states.

“By preventing states with a recent history of voter discrimination from restricting the right to vote, this bill restores the full promise of our democracy and advances the legacy of those brave Foot Soldiers like John Lewis who dedicated their lives for the sacred right to vote,” said Rep. Sewell. “I’m proud to be introducing this bill today and look forward to its swift passage. Our democracy is at stake.”

“The House today is taking a momentous step to secure the sacred right to vote for generations to come,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). “With the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, proudly introduced today by Congresswoman Terri Sewell alongside Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, Democrats are fighting back against an anti-democratic tide, protecting access to the ballot box for every American and carrying on the cause to which our beloved John Lewis devoted his entire life”

A previous version of H.R. 4 passed in the House during the 116th Congress but it did not receive a vote in the Senate. The bill was renamed in the 117th Congress to honor John Lewis, a civil rights icon and Congressman who died in 2020.

The House is expected to vote on the bill next week. The vote comes after the For the People Act (H.R. 1), another sweeping voting rights bill, passed in the House earlier this year, but was blocked in the Senate. H.R. 4 faces similar challenges without a clear path through Congress. In the evenly divided Senate, the bill is short of the 60 votes needed to bypass the filibuster.

NALC will continue to monitor this legislation as it moves through Congress. 

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