Pelosi huddles with CBC on voting rights

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Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) huddled Tuesday night with members of the Congressional Black Caucus to discuss efforts to reinstate voting protections shot down by the Supreme Court in June.

The Pelosi meeting held at her Georgetown home included the CBC’s newest member, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

Pelosi tapped Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.), the third-ranking House Democrat, to head a panel charged with crafting a legislative response to the high court's decision. By a 5 to 4 vote, the Court had found that the formula governing which states must get federal approval to change election rules under the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA) is outdated and therefore unconstitutional.

With less than 20 legislative days remaining in the year, however, the group has yet to produce even a draft. 

At the Pelosi dinner Tuesday, Clyburn and Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) updated CBC members on their VRA effort, according to a Democratic aide familiar with the gathering.

CBC members also gave a hearty welcome to Booker, who was elected last month in a special contest to replace the late-Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.). Booker responded that he's been in Washington so briefly that “[I] still have that new Senator smell,” the aide said.

Booker also noted what a privilege is was to be gathered among some of his heroes from the civil rights movement, pointing specifically to Clyburn and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), the aide said. 

The gathering was attended by 28 lawmakers, including Pelosi and Rep. Steve Israel (N.Y.), head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.