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House passes John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act

The voting rights legislation will now move onto the Senate.

House of Representatives Getty Images

The House of Representatives passed a bill on Tuesday (Aug. 24) that increases the power of the federal government with the goal of protecting voting rights. The bill, dubbed the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act after the late Georgia congressman, passed in the House along party lines.

“John knew that the fight for justice never truly ends,” Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell tweeted on Tuesday about the bill. “Each generation must fight & fight again to preserve the progress of the past and advance it. Now it’s our turn.”

According to CNN, the legislation seeks to restore a part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that was weakened by two previous Supreme Court rulings. If the bill is voted into law, the U.S. Justice Department will once again have the power to block certain jurisdictions with a history of voter discrimination from changing their election laws.

The act will now move on for a vote in the Senate, where it faces steep opposition from conservative lawmakers. A majority of Republicans have opposed the bill, claiming it gives the federal government too much power over states’ electoral processes. So far, only GOP Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski has been supportive of the bill.

Earlier this summer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act was “unnecessary” since “it’s against the law to discriminate in voting on the basis of race already.” McConnell added that the bill would “grant the Justice Department almost total ability to determine the voting systems of every state in America.”

In June, the Justice Department sued the state of Georgia, the Georgia Secretary of State and the Georgia State Election Board over the state’s new voting law. In its filing, the government body alleged that “the cumulative and discriminatory effect of these laws—particularly on Black voters—was known to lawmakers and that lawmakers adopted the law despite this.”

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