House Democrats are set to introduce new voting rights legislation named for the late Rep. John Lewis — a bill that will include some key provisions of their more sweeping but stalled election reform proposal — by the end of next week, party leaders said Friday.
They aim to ensure all congressional Democrats can get behind the legislation as the bigger voting bill faces a near-impossible path forward in the Senate, despite a high-profile White House meeting set for Friday to discuss a possible path forward. But even the Lewis-named bill faces an uphill climb in the upper chamber, where Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has questioned the need for the legislation.
The Lewis-named bill, a top priority of the Congressional Black Caucus, aims to restore provisions of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act that were struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013. Democrats are revising the legislation in an effort to stave off future legal scrutiny and address an early-July Supreme Court decision that could limit the scope of forthcoming voting rights challenges. POLITICO first reported in June that the Black Caucus and Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), who chairs a key subpanel overseeing federal elections, pushed for the Lewis bill’s consideration to be moved up.
“We are going to get this bill prepared and hopefully announce what it is on Aug 6 — a bill that can go to the Senate,” said Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), noting that the bill could be introduced on the anniversary of the signing of the landmark 1965 legislation. A vote would likely occur later, he said.
“Let’s not get ourselves too concerned about a date,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said of the potential timing for a vote. “When it is ready is when we’ll call members back.”
The planned introduction comes as Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are set to meet with President Joe Biden later Friday on voting rights legislation. Democrats’ bigger elections and ethics measure is stuck thanks to opposition from Senate Republicans and resistance from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to some of its provisions, leaving Democrats frustrated on the path forward.
In the meantime, they’ve been ramping up their advocacy: Three House Democrats have been arrested at Hart Senate Office Building in the last three weeks in protests over voting rights.
“This is of the highest priority for us – the sanctity of the vote, the basis of our Democracy,” Pelosi said.
Heather Caygle contributed to this report.