Pelosi Remarks at Press Conference Calling for Substantive Action on Voting Rights

Jul 16, 2015
Press Release

Contact: Drew Hammill, 202-226-7616

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks today at a press conference calling for substantive action to protect and restore voting rights.  Below are the Leader’s opening and closing remarks:

Leader Pelosi’s Opening Remarks:

“Good afternoon.  As you all know, I am sure, August 6th marks the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act – the signing of the bill that is one of the most consequential pieces of legislation in our nation’s history.

“For almost 50 years, the Voting Rights Act stood as the great guardian of Americans’ right to vote; the right to make their voices heard in the direction of their government and the shape of their future.  Yet two years ago, the Supreme Court decided to dismantle some of the most important protections of the Voting Rights Act.  And in the two years since – despite the long-standing bipartisan legacy of the VRA – the Republican Congress has refused to allow a renewed and strengthened Voting Rights Act to come to the floor.

“I call upon the Speaker and the Republican majority to bring a voting rights bill to the floor now, and to support the approach of Mr. Clyburn, Mr. Butterfield, Mr. Lewis, Ms. Sewell, and the Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and other civil rights advocates in the Congress.  Voting rights now!  I’m pleased to yield to our distinguished Assistant Leader, Mr. Clyburn.”

Leader Pelosi’s Closing Remarks:

“The photograph that you see here is a manifestation of the challenge people have.  The beautiful part of it is that people want to vote.  They consider it a blessing, a privilege, a responsibility.  But with the closing of polling places, and reducing the number of hours that the polling places that are open are open, and also by reducing the number of voting machines, and just eliminating access to the ballot, we are – how could it be?  What would our Founders think – erecting obstacles to participating rather than removing them? 

“Since June of two years ago – 2013 – the Congressional Black Caucus, [Congressional] Hispanic Caucus, [Congressional] Asian Pacific American Caucus – all of us have been trying to get a bill brought to the floor.

“It’s a compromise.  We can do better, and the Sewell bill is better.  We can do more, and the Lewis bill is more.  But there has been an opportunity for the Republican majority – not just to send a condolence card or to show up at a service, but to translate that into action.  And we are now segueing from the conversation about the flag to the conversation about voting rights, now. 

“Any questions for my colleagues?  Any other comments?  Mr. Clyburn said it very well when he said that we look forward to speaking with the Speaker, about how we can end the conversation about the flag, which is deterring the appropriations process from moving forward, to a conversation about how we can, in a bipartisan way – it’s always been bipartisan.  Ninety-eight to nothing in the Senate; I think 400 to something in the House, the last time – signed by President George W. Bush, who attended Selma proudly, as a President who had signed the Voting Rights Act.  Thank you all.”

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