WASHINGTON, D.C. — After Republican senators on Wednesday used a procedural loophole to block debate on the Freedom to Vote Act, grassroots activists are demanding that the U.S. Senate pass the bill with or without Republican support — mobilizing with a Freedom to Vote relay from West Virginia to Washington, D.C., culminating in a Saturday rally outside the U.S. Capitol featuring Martin Luther King III and Arndrea Waters King.
As the Freedom to Vote Relay leaves Harpers Ferry, W.Va. and makes its way across Maryland a few of its leaders weighed in:
“A minority of U.S. senators have once again blocked even having a debate on the Freedom to Vote Act, an enormously popular piece of legislation that has the support of seven in 10 Americans,” said Aquene Freechild, Democracy Is For People campaign co-director at Public Citizen. “Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is reaching across the aisle to pass the most significant pro-voter bill in generations, and the Freedom to Vote Relay is demonstrating how committed his constituents and the American people are to getting this done. Now, the Senate must do whatever it takes to pass this bill. The freedom to vote is too important for some Senate procedure that’s changed a great deal over time and is not in the Constitution to stand in the way.”
“For democracy to work for all of us, it must include us all,” said Justin Kwasa, voting rights program director at the League of Conservation Voters. “By protecting our freedom to vote, ensuring fair representation, and limiting the influence of big money in our politics, this bill will make our government accountable to the people, instead of the wealthy few, so we can make progress on the big issues that affect our lives, like climate change, clean air and water, and economic recovery. We urge the Senate to act now to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and send it to President Joe Biden’s desk. Failure is not an option.”
“Congress returned this week with a long to-do list, but nothing is more important than passing the Freedom to Vote Act. Anything short of that would be a disservice to the men and women who gave their lives for this cause decades ago,” Freedom to Vote Act Rally conveners Martin Luther King III and Arndrea Waters King wrote on Wednesday in Essence.
Everyday Americans are calling for action on the Freedom to Vote Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and D.C. statehood. Grassroots volunteers, voting rights advocates, civil rights leaders, faith leaders, and youth activists from across the country are joining with groups including the Declaration for American Democracy, Black Voters Matter, CREW, DC Vote, Drum Majors for Change, the League of Conservation Voters, Public Citizen, the League of Women Voters, the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, and more.
Credit: Faithful Democracy, Charles Town, W.Va.
Credit: Natalie Tennant, Charleston, W.Va.
Credit: Black Voters Matter – Harpers Ferry, W.Va.