NAACP president presses senators on voting rights: ‘You will decide who defines America’
The president of the NAACP is pressing senators to pass voting rights legislation as the upper chamber considers the issue this week, telling the lawmakers “with your vote, you will decide who defines America, and who has a voice in America.”
Derrick Johnson penned a letter to all U.S. senators on Tuesday, asserting that “our democracy may be standing in its final hour” which is why it is essential that they approve voting rights reform.
“The bedrock of freedom in America lies in our sacred right to vote. Without it, everything else crumbles. We still have time to act, but the window of opportunity is rapidly narrowing,” Johnson wrote. “Let’s not miss this critical moment to pass federal voting rights protections, what may be our last hope to save our democracy.”
The letter comes on the same day Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) moved to formally end debate on a bill that combines the Democrats’ two marquee election reform measures: the Freedom to Vote Act, which calls for changes to federal elections and campaign finance laws, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which bolsters the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
The entire chamber will likely vote on the bill Wednesday or Thursday. It is expected to fail because of GOP opposition to the measure. At that point Schumer is then expected to move to change Senate rules, a path that he has vowed to take if Republicans block the legislation.
The majority leader, however, does not appear to have the 50 votes in his own party to take action on Senate rules given opposition from Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who both oppose changing the 60-vote filibuster.
Johnson knocked Democrats such as Sinema who support voting rights legislation but will not change Senate rules to pass such a measure.
“It is morally inconsistent to praise voting rights legislation while allowing a procedural rule to tank it,” he wrote.
He also criticized the restrictive voting reforms spearheaded by Republicans on the state level over the past year, writing that “if one party can dismantle our democracy on its own, the other party should muster the courage to safeguard it.”
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