A record number of lawmakers will help celebrate the 50th birthday of the Voting Rights Act this weekend, but only a few have committed to supporting legislation that would restore a key piece of the landmark law. President Obama likely will raise that issue on Saturday, when he delivers a speech on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., to a crowd that will include about 100 members of Congress. Many of the Republican members will be participating for the first time in the annual commemoration of the 1965 voting rights marches in Selma. But back in Washington, GOP lawmakers have mostly resisted efforts to advance a bill — the Voting Rights Amendment Act — that supporters say is needed to make sure minorities continue to have equal access to the ballot box.
Civil rights groups say they’re happy to have a record number of Republicans at this weekend’s anniversary events, but they want more than a photo op. “No elected official should come to Selma and leave without throwing their full-throated support behind passing the Voting Rights Amendment Act,” said Ryan Haygood, deputy director of litigation for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont and a possible candidate for president next year, said lawmakers who join him in Selma this weekend should be working to make it easier, not harder, for people to vote.
“To stand up and say, ‘Well isn’t it wonderful and brave what happened 50 years ago,’ while you’re actively participating in voter suppression today is to me extremely hypocritical,” Sanders said.
Full Article: GOP backs voting rights event, but not legislation.