Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Statement of Rep. Melvin L. Watt (N.C.-12) on VRA ...

I stand here today together with my colleagues from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus because together we have worked with Chairman Sensenbrenner and Ranking Member Conyers towards this momentous occasion: the introduction of a bill to strengthen and renew the Voting Rights Act of 1965.This bill is very important to the members of our caucuses because it not only reauthorizes the Voting Rights Act, it also restores it to its original intent to secure and protect the rights of minority citizens to participate equally at the ballot box. Specifically, the bill bars voting changes that have the "purpose" of discriminating against minority citizens and it restores the ability of minority communities to elect candidates who share their values and represent their interest as originally intended by Congress. Upon the introduction of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, President Lyndon Johnson noted that the Voting Rights Act is like no other piece of civil rights legislation because "[e]very American citizen must have an equal right to vote." "About this," he said "there can and should be no argument."So the Voting Rights Act is different from other civil rights bills because it preserves the core right of our democracy - a right that does not and has not changed over time - that is, the right to participate fully and fairly in the political process. But we believe that, like other landmark civil rights bills, the renewed and restored bill that we introduced today is good for all Americans. It is not a Republican bill, it is not a Democratic bill, it is not a House bill or a Senate bill. And it is not a bill solely for minorities. This is a bipartisan, bicameral bill that unites us as a country by ensuring that all Americans may have their voices heard. This is a solid bill, and together, we the members of the Congressional Tri-Caucus pledge our commitment to continue to work tirelessly to ensure its passage.


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