Rep. Lewis, House Democrats Introduce Voting Rights Bill, The "Voter Empowerment Act"
Led by civil rights icon, Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) and five other democratic Members, the House of Representatives have unveiled comprehensive voting rights legislation, H.R. 5799, The Voter Empowerment Act.” The bill would modernize voter registration, ensure equal access to the ballot box for all Americans and prohibit deceptive practices and voter fraud.
A statement released by House Democratic Whip, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), said “Democrats will not sit idly by as states across the country attempt to pass unprecedented laws that would erect barriers to voting for military, disabled minority, young elderly and low-income Americans.”
National Urban League Applauds Twin Victories in Florida in the Fight Against Voter Suppression
Recent attempts to keep people of color in Florida from exercising their constitutional right to vote suffered twin blows last week.
A Federal District Court judge in Miami issued a temporary order barring Florida from enforcing a number of burdensome regulations, including a requirement that all completed voter applications be submitted to the state with 48 hours after collection; and that individuals who engage in voter registration sign a form threatening them with criminal penalties for certain infractions. The court left in place measures requiring groups engaging in voter drives to pre-register with the state; and requiring voter registration forms to be stamped with an organization’s designated identification number.
Senate Rejects Student Loan Rate Measure
Last week, the Senate attempted to pass legislation to keep student loan interest rates at 3.4 percent instead of the 6.8 percent increase that will go into effect by July 1st without congressional action. This increase would impact 7.4 million low and middle income students.
In late May, the Senate first considered a Republican bill sponsored by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) to ex- tend the low interest rate but to pay for it by eliminating the Preventive Health Care fund, authorized under the Affordable Care Act. This bill was rejected by a vote of 34 – 62. Then, the Senate voted on a Democratic proposal sponsored by Sen. Reid (D-NV) that would extend the low interest rate by tax preference for certain S corporations. This proposal was rejected by a vote of 51 – 43. Senators will revisit the fight over how to pay the $5.9 billion cost of keeping the rate lower when they return from the Memorial Day recess.