Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner fell short in his 2014 efforts to convince GOP leadership to take up his Voting Rights Amendment Act, but the Wisconsin Republican is ready to take another stab at passing a rewrite of the historic law. But there’s little indication this year will be any different. For Sensenbrenner and his fellow co-sponsors of the legislation introduced Wednesday, many of the same obstacles remain — along with a few new ones. On the surface, it would seem the time has never been better — nor the political pressures greater — for the Republican-controlled House to take action. The VRA’s 50th anniversary this summer has the landmark civil rights legislation back in the spotlight almost two years after the Supreme Court, challenging lawmakers to update the law for the 21st century, struck down the enforcement section of the act. Sensenbrenner chose to drop his bill on the same day the House considered legislation to award Congressional Gold Medals to the “foot soldiers” of 1965’s bloody civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala.
Republicans are eager to rebrand themselves as an inclusive and compassionate party, a “big tent” ahead of the 2016 elections, and Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., is still doing damage control after revelations he took a meeting with a white supremacist group in 2002. But Sensenbrenner and his allies have a huge challenge ahead in mobilizing the kind of support necessary to advance their legislation.
Though he is a respected member of the House Republican Conference and was Judiciary chairman during passage of the last VRA rewrite in 2006, Sensenbrenner no longer has the kind of clout critical to moving the measure through the legislative pipeline.
“We need the Republican leadership to enthusiastically support the enforcement of Section 5, and they have the ability to do it,” Congressional Black Caucus Chairman G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., told CQ Roll Call Wednesday. “The Republican leadership, if they really want to attract minority voters into the Republican Party, they have to demonstrate that they understand that the right to vote is precious.”
Full Article: Lawmakers Push New Longshot Bid to Rewrite Voting Rights Act.