Democratic Whip Urges Republican Leadership to Allow Consideration of VRA Reauthorization
WASHINGTON, DC House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) released the following statement yesterday morning after the House of Representatives defeated an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2007 Science, State, Justice, Commerce Appropriation Bill that would have prohibited funds in the bill from being used to enforce Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act. Section 203 ensures that American citizens with limited English proficiency get the help they need at the polls. The amendment, offered by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), was defeated by a vote of 167-254:
Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act has proved to be a constitutional, just and practical way to ensure that eligible voters regardless of language ability may participate in our democracy on a fair and equal basis in elections. The United States of America draws its strength from its great diversity, and Section 203 is an explicit recognition of that.
The Stearns amendment was particularly pernicious. It was nothing less than a cynical attempt to disenfranchise eligible voters and undermine core protections afforded by the Voting Rights Act. Thus, I am very pleased that a bipartisan majority of the House including nearly all Democrats voted against this measure.
This strong vote against the Stearns Amendment shows that there is bipartisan majority support for approving the reauthorization of the VRA, and I hope that the House Republican leaders will move forward on the reauthorization immediately upon our return after the Fourth of July.
On Wednesday, June 21st, the House Republican leadership announced that it was pulling the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006" (H.R. 9) from Floor consideration. President Johnson signed the VRA into law on August 6, 1965-almost 41 years ago-in a direct response to voting rights marches which were led by Dr. Marting Luther King, Jr. In 1982 President Ronald Reagan amended and extended the VRA for 25 years. The VRA is currently due to expire in September 2007.
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Congressman Hoyer is the Federal Representative for the Fifth Congressional District of Maryland. Members of the United States House of Representatives serve two-year terms. Mr. Hoyer also serves as the Minority Whip. The Minority Whip is a member of the minority party in the U.S. House of Representatives who assists the Minority Leader in coordinating the party caucus in its responses to legislation and other matters.
Mr. Hoyer's website is located at http://www.hoyer.house.gov/. His office can be reached at (202) 225-4131. More biographical info on Mr. Hoyer can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steny_Hoyer.