Congresswoman Sewell Signs Letter to Republican Leadership Urging Hearing and Opportunity to
Improve the Voting Rights Amendment Act
Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell joined 160 of her House Colleagues in signing a letter to House Republican Leadership and the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee asking for a full hearing and opportunity to improve H.R. 3899, the Voting Rights Amendment Act. H.R 3899 was bi-partisan legislation introduced in the House of Representatives to amend the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder.
“Today I signed a letter to House Republican Leadership and the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee asking for a full hearing and opportunity to improve H.R. 3899, the Voting Rights Amendment Act. While I am encouraged by the bi-partisan effort to find a legislative solution to reinstate the pre-clearance provision of the Voting Rights Act, I am deeply concerned that the State of Alabama is not protected under the bill’s new coverage formula. Federal oversight has proven to be highly effective in giving Alabama voters the security they deserve throughout every stage of the electoral process. Although progress has been made, the need for federal oversight still exists in Alabama. As recent as January 13, 2014, a federal judge in Alabama reinstated federal oversight over the voting practices in the City of Evergreen, Alabama, using Section 3 of the VRA which allows jurisdictions that have intentionally discriminated against minority voters to be “bailed in” to the oversight requirements,” said Rep. Sewell.
“No right is more fundamental to our democracy than the right to vote. We must be vigilant in our efforts to find a legislative solution that will address the Supreme Court ruling in the Shelby case,” continued Rep. Sewell. “This bill in its current form falls short in providing adequate protections. It is my hope that we have a hearing on this bill and an opportunity to make changes and strengthen the Voting Rights Amendment Act so that it ensures all vulnerable communities, like those in Alabama, are included under the preclearance provision.”
Click here to read the full letter, or read full text of the letter below:
Dear Speaker Boehner, Leader Cantor, and Chairman Goodlatte:
In the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder last year, Chief Justice Roberts expressly acknowledged the persistence of voter discrimination and challenged Congress to formulate an updated coverage formula to protect against it. H.R. 3899, the Voting Rights Amendment Act, is a bipartisan bill that would restore the safeguards of the 1965 Voting Rights Act in a manner consistent with the Shelby County decision. Some of us believe the bill should be enacted in its current form, and some of us would prefer to see it amended. But all of us stand united in our desire for the House to consider the issue in time for the entire Congress to work its will before the August district work period.
In that spirit, we ask that the Judiciary Committee hold a hearing on this legislation and proceed toward a markup with full confidence that any legislation passed out of the committee will be considered on the House floor. We stand ready to work with you to move the bipartisan bill to the floor expeditiously. We are confident that a bipartisan bill passed by the House would be swiftly passed by the Senate and signed into law by the President.
While we differ in our views on the ideal response to Shelby County, we all hope to join you in building on the bipartisan agreement that has been reached to ensure that, as President Ronald Reagan said, “no barrier will come between our citizens and the voting booth.”