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Senate Republicans Block Debate on John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republicans today blocked a vote on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) was the sole Republican to support moving forward with debate. Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, released the following statement:

“What a sad day for America.

“Fifty-six years ago, the landmark Voting Rights Act helped make our country a more perfect union. The protections, guarantees, and enforcement system of the Voting Rights Act brought an end to the ruthless disenfranchisement of Black people that marked the Jim Crow era.

“In recent years, the U.S. Supreme Court has gutted the Voting Rights Act. State after state has rushed to exploit that opportunity by using all kinds of means to make it harder for people of color to vote.

“Everyone in Congress knows this is happening. They know why it’s happening. And they know that state voter suppression efforts don’t just disproportionately impact people of color – the whole purpose of these laws is to deny people of color the freedom to vote.

“Today, the Senate sought to consider the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would repair the damage done by the Supreme Court and give back to the federal government the power to prevent states from enacting flagrantly racist changes to their election laws.

“However, yet again Republicans used procedural maneuvers to block simple debate on the bill – just as they have done three times previously this year on crucial democracy legislation. That cast of Republicans includes a considerable number – including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) – who voted to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act in 2006.

“Our flawed democracy is unraveling before our eyes.

“As a country, we can sit helplessly and watch this happen. Or Senate Democrats can finally decide that protecting Senate traditions and institutional relics like the filibuster are not more important than preserving and strengthening our democracy.

“We are at D-Day for democracy. It’s time for the Senate to use any means necessary to enact the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act.”