Pelosi Floor Speech on H.R. 5746, the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the Floor of the House of Representatives in support of H.R. 5746, the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the gentleman for yielding and for his leadership.
Mr. Speaker, today our nation faces the most dangerous assault on the vote since Jim Crow. Last year alone, more than 440 draconian voter restrictions have been introduced across 49 states, with at least 19 states enacting 34 measures into law. The legis – this legislation seeks not only to suppress access to the ballot, but empower states to nullify election results entirely. That's what the legislation that I referenced – across the country.
This sinister campaign is particularly targeted communities of color. As the House Committee on House Administration proved in last summer's report, partisan forces are accelerating a sinister campaign to silence the voices of color in particular.
There are four things, just four things, I want people to know about the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act. Four things to remember, and one observation. The four reasons why every Member should vote for this bill today.
First, it ends shameful voter suppression and election subversion, which lets local officials simply choose winners and losers based on their own political interest. Nullification of elections – vote no on that.
Secondly, it ends partisan gerrymandering, so that the restricting – redistricting process will meet the standards of the Constitution, of the Voting Rights Act and keep communities of interest together. Ending partisan gerrymandering.
One, stopping voter suppression and voter nullification – election nullification. Two, ending partisan gerrymandering.
Three – third, it stops big, dark, special interest money, which is suffocating the airwaves with misrepresentations, which does also suppress the voices of the American people. Get rid of big, dark money. People can still give their big, dark special interests, but they have to disclose it, so that the public knows.
And, fourth, it – this legislation empowers the grassroots by rewarding their participation in our democracy, amplifying their voice and – yes, yes, with the power of matching their small dollar contributions. Hear this: there are no taxpayer dollars involved in that, no matter what you might hear them misrepresent. No taxpayer dollars.
So, four things: end voter suppression and election nullification, end political gerrymandering and big, dark special interest money crushing the political system and, four, reward the grassroots. That is in the Freedom to Vote Act.
In the John Lewis [Voting Rights Advancement] Act, which is part of what we're voting on today, I just want to be clear. This Voting Rights Act has been strongly bipartisan. Indeed, Republican Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush and George W. Bush – who signed the most recent Voting Rights Act, which received like 390 votes in the House, unanimous in the Senate, signed by George W. Bush – bipartisan. And, four times, the Congress has reauthorized the Voting Rights Act in a bipartisan way. This is the first time we have the assault that we have on that.
I'm very, very proud of the House of Representatives, Mr. Speaker, because we have twice passed the For The People Act, which is this [Freedom to Vote] is – and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights and Advancement Act. Even before he passed and had this named in his honor, we passed it once.
The House has made clear: we stand with the people in the fight for voting rights.
I do want to, again in closing, commend you, Mr. Butterfield, for your leadership on all of this going around the country. John Sarbanes, the author of our For The People Act, Terri Sewell, the author of the Voting Rights Act, Zoe Lofgren, the Chair of the House Administration Committee, Mr. Nadler, the Chair of the Judiciary Committee. And, I also want to acknowledge the work of Jim McGovern, the Chair of the Rules Committee. He has brought these bills to the Floor time and time again.
It is a day when Democrats will once again take a strong step to defend our democracy as we send the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act to the Senate for urgent consideration. Nothing less is at stake than our democracy.
With that I urge a strong, bipartisan ‘aye’ vote on this legislation and yield back the balance of my time.