Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Representing the 12th District of California

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Pelosi Remarks at Voting Rights Speak Out

Jun 22, 2017
Press Release

Contact: Ashley Etienne/Caroline Behringer, 202-226-7616

Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn, House Democratic Caucus Chair Joseph Crowley, Representative Terri Sewell and members of the House Democratic Caucus to introduce the Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA), legislation which restores protections for voters in states with a recent history of discrimination. Below are the Leader’s Remark.

Leader Pelosi.  “Let’s hear it for Steny Hoyer! Thank you Steny.  

“I associate myself with Steny’s remarks as we stand in view of the Supreme Court.  Remember, my colleagues, the day we stood on the steps of the Court, it was the day when they were hearing the oral arguments.  Just about an hour or so later, we went over to the Capitol and we unveiled the statue.  A statute to Rosa Parks.  

“It was a very thrilling day.  Our same Republican colleagues joined in saluting Rosa Parks but would not give us any thought of a vote on voting rights.  That day, we did not know what the Court would do, and when the Court acted in a very irresponsible way, in terms of our democracy, we had still been fighting for that.  So I want to salute – join Steny and others in saluting Terri Sewell and John Lewis, two champions, two patriots for our country. 

[Applause] 

“The Voting Rights Advancement Act, the Voter Empowerment Act , both of those bills, when the Democrats win the House next year will be introduced on the first day, right [Representative] John [Lewis]?  Right, [Representative] Terri [Sewell]? 

“And will be passed onto the Senate and put on the President’s desk.  But we don’t want to wait that long.  We don’t want to wait that long.  We have an election in the meantime and we want people to understand that they have the right to vote and that their vote will be counted as cast. Counted as cast.  

“Many people sacrificed so much for the right to vote in our country.  Abraham Lincoln, the suffragettes for women to have the right to vote, the Civil Rights Movement and Edmund Petti bridge, we see the evidence on the 50th anniversary and they come home and say we can’t have a vote.  Well it’s nice for them to pay their respects, but the ultimate respect is to respect the right of every American who is eligible to have that right to vote.  So again, we want to work every single day to advance this cause.  

“The public should know that there are obstacles to participation, to our democracy, and our Founders thought of something completely different from this.  It’s a sacred right, it’s the basis for our Democracy.  

“I often say that when you go to heaven and you see our Founders, how do you approach them and say, ‘I did everything in my power to suppress the vote.’

[Laughter] 

“It’s just unpatriotic.  It’s un-American and you have our commitment that this will become the law when we become the majority and we want it to become the law even before that.  So thank you all for what you are doing, protecting the right to vote.  Voting rights is not a racial entitlement.  Protect the Voting Rights Act.  

“Thank you all. 

[Applause] 

“This is the man [Congressman James Clyburn] who has been the patron saint of the Voting Rights Act in the Congress.  He was there at the table when we passed the bill, remember John, in 2006 that became law in 2007, and the Court decided was obsolete just a few years later.  

“But he has been our preacher, our leader, our instructor, our mentor on this and when this bill passes, in addition to the great leadership of John Lewis and Terri Sewell, it will be because of the tremendous leadership and inspiration of Jim Clyburn, the Assistant Leader”

[Applause]

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