Not a single House Republican voted for the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021.
A total of 203 House Republicans voted Tuesday for a bipartisan bill renaming a post office in Atlanta after the late Rep. John Lewis (D-GA). Not one of them voted for the voting rights legislation that he championed and that bears his name when it came up in August.
The bill, which passed by a vote of 421-0, designates Atlanta's main post office the John R. Lewis Post Office Building. Lewis represented parts of city from 1987 until his death in 2020. Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) voted "present" as part of what he says is his ongoing opposition to naming buildings after politicians.
The bill to rename the building was co-sponsored by more than half of the members of the Republican caucus. Reps. Buddy Carter (R-GA) and Jake LaTurner (R-KS) both gave floor speeches prior to the vote in which they lauded Lewis for his career and his role in the civil and voting rights movements.
Prior to his life in politics, Lewis was chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s. He was one of the leaders of the voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, on what was later known as Bloody Sunday after he and other marchers were savagely beaten by police officers as they walked on the Edmund Pettus Bridge across the Alabama River. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed in the aftermath of the massacre.
As a member of Congress, Lewis was a leading voice for protecting the right to vote. After the conservative majority on the Supreme Court gutted the 2006 Voting Rights Act reauthorization in its 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, Lewis helped introduce the first Voting Rights Advancement Act to repair the damage.
After his death, Democrats renamed the bill in his honor. It would restore rules that required those states and localities with a documented recent history of race-based voter suppression to obtain prior clearance from the U.S. Department of Justice for any changes to their voting and election rules.
In August 2021, the House passed the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act by a vote of 219-212, with every single Republican voting no. Falsely claiming that the bill was an unconstitutional federal takeover of elections and a waste of time, Republicans blocked the Senate version repeatedly via filibuster.
Last year, Georgia's GOP-controlled government passed a massive voter suppression law. A recent Quinnipiac Poll of the state's Black voters found only 40% expect it to be very easy to vote in 2022.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.