Breaking News
More () »

Voting rights bill gets a vote in the U.S. House today. Can it finally pass Congress?

“What we’re trying to do is put in place procedures that will protect democracy itself,” said U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, D-Dallas.
Credit: AP
The U.S. Capitol is seen in Washington, early Tuesday, July 27, 2021. Democrats are launching their investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. They're beginning with a focus on the law enforcement officers who were attacked and beaten as the rioters broke into the building. It's an effort to put a human face on the violence of the day. The police officers who are testifying Tuesday endured some of the worst of the brutality. The panel's first hearing comes as partisan tensions have only worsened since the insurrection. Many Republicans have played down or outright denied the violence that occurred and denounced the Democratic-led investigation as politically motivated. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

DALLAS — The U.S. House of Representatives will again consider the John Lewis Voting Rights Act Tuesday night, which, if passed, would require southern states like Texas – with a history of discrimination – to get permission from the Department of Justice before changing any voting laws.

The legislation, known as H.R. 4, is expected to get a vote in the Democratic-controlled House after 8:00 p.m. CDT Tuesday night.

“Time is of the essence for getting H.R. 4 signed into law… especially as Republicans in Texas and across the country are ramming through dangerous anti-Black and anti-Hispanic anti-voter legislation,” said Congressman Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth.

At issue is something called pre-clearance. Texas and other states had to have their redistricting maps and changes to voting laws approved by the U.S. Department of Justice for years until a Supreme Court decision in 2013.

“The way we choose our elected officials should be as free from partisan influence as possible,” said Congressman Colin Allred, D-Dallas. “The restrictions we see coming forward by the Texas Legislature have nothing to do with combatting fraud. It is clearly in service of the ‘Big Lie.’”

Former President Trump’s false claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election have sparked a number of Republican state legislatures to draft bills to change voting laws.

“What we’re trying to do is put in place procedures that will protect democracy itself,” Allred added.

The John Lewis Voting Rights Act is one of the national bills that Texas Democrats urged their congressional colleagues to pass when they fled to D.C. last month.

The Texas Democrats were important in highlighting what’s at stake, said Congressman Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio. “We still believe we can get this passed this year.”

A similar bill passed the House two years ago, but it went nowhere in the then-Republican controlled Senate.

As recently as last month, some Democratic senators in close districts expressed concern about eliminating the filibuster in order to get it passed.

“There are ongoing conversations between the [U.S.] House and Senate. I am optimistic that we will be able to see it move forward,” said Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher, D-Houston.

“While the voting rights act was signed in ink, it was written in blood,” said U.S. Rep. Al Green, D-Houston in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday. “I believe our mission is to hold back this rollback that is taking place in states like Texas.”