Pelosi Remarks at Press Event to Commemorate 50th Anniversary of Voting Rights Act
Contact: Drew Hammill, 202-226-7616
Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks today at a press event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. Below are the Leader’s opening and closing remarks:
Leader Pelosi’s Opening Remarks:
“We have gathered here to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act, this August 6th. And we have come to demand that Republicans stop blocking action to restore and preserve the essential protections of the Voting Rights Act for every American. As I mentioned, August 6th marks the 50th anniversary of the signing by Lyndon Johnson of the Voting Rights Act, one of the most consequential pieces of legislation in the history of our democracy.
“For almost 50 years, the Voting Rights Act has stood as the guardian of Americans’ right to vote, of Americans’ right to have their voices heard in the direction of their government and the shape of their future. [Congressman] John Lewis was one of the leaders who fought for the right to vote. And the march [at] Selma was a march to the ballot box. We’re so honored to serve with him and that he’s with us today.
“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 longstanding bipartisan legacy of the Voting Rights Act, the Republican Party has refused to allow a renewed and strengthened Voting Rights Act to come to the floor. Now, the Republicans have decided to adjourn for nearly six weeks. And we are gathered here to say: it is wrong. It is wrong for Republicans to have left without acting on the Voting Rights Act. It is wrong for Republicans to permit this most fundamental right of our democracy to be eroded. It’s wrong to make it harder to vote in this country.
“The right thing to do is to pass the renewed Voting Rights Act, and other empowering legislation. Too many have given too much – John Lewis – to defend and advance the right to vote in America, from the Founders, to the heroes of Selma, to the brave men and women in uniform who risk and give their lives for our freedom every day. We cannot, and we must not, and we will not allow voting rights to be eroded.
“I am very pleased to welcome to the House side a great Member of the United States Senate, a champion for the Voting Rights Act over the years, and for expanding freedom in our country: the great Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the Senate.”
Leader Pelosi’s Closing Remarks:
“That would be a perfect call to action. But I do want to acknowledge how honored we were to have the participation of our colleagues in the United States Senate – once again, a champion for voting rights and civil rights and equal rights Patrick Leahy but also a Member of the Senate Democratic Leadership Chuck Schumer who is helping us with this.
“So, with John Lewis’ call to action and the facts that are presented by our colleagues, we are leaving these steps and taking this drumbeat across America. By August 6th, the whole country will be aware of what the choice is here. As has been mentioned by Mr. Clyburn, our Assistant Leader, and others, [President] George [W.] Bush proudly signed this bill. I’m going to get you the photo of us coming down the steps with [Bill Frist] in 2006. We were in the minority, remember, John [Lewis] and John Conyers and Mr. Clyburn – who helped write that bill – who did write that bill. And we worked so closely together. When they were in the majority, we got that big vote. What’s happened to the Republican Party? What they did then was right; what they are doing now is wrong. And we want the American people to join us. So you will see, again, a drumbeat across America for the Voting Rights Act but in doing so, to support our great democracy; to honor our Founders, the vision of our Founders and the aspirations of the American people.
“I thank my colleagues for taking the heat this morning and being here even though the Republicans have left town. I thank all of you for joining us. Upward and onward.”
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