House Republicans face a political dilemma as they consider how — and whether — to rewrite the Voting Rights Act after the Supreme Court neutered some of its most powerful provisions last week. Failing to act would undermine the party’s efforts to reach out to minority voters and potentially prompt a backlash that drives up Democratic turnout. But passing any law that reinstates federal preclearance of voting laws in some states would face a bruising battle in Congress. Lawmakers in any affected states would be almost certain to protest a rewrite, while Democrats have an incentive to insist on the broadest possible bill. Even with the difficult politics, Republicans seem willing to try. A Republican aide familiar with negotiations said that “discussions among top Republicans and Democrats are already under way, with every intention of introducing a legislative solution,” but leadership has yet to commit to bringing a measure to the floor. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin is leading the Republican charge to rewrite his own rewrite. In 2006, it was Sensenbrenner, then-chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who worked to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act a year early, before it expired in 2007, fearing that a different Congress would not be able to pass a reauthorization.
After the court’s ruling last week, Sensenbrenner said the Voting Rights Act was “vital to America’s commitment to never again permit racial prejudices in the electoral process” and pledged that he and his colleagues “will work in a bipartisan fashion” to update the law.
Sensenbrenner did warn, however, that it will “take time and will require members from both sides of the aisle to put partisan politics aside and ensure Americans’ most sacred right is protected.”
An aide to Sensenbrenner said any solution must be “completely bipartisan” and “comply with the objections of the Supreme Court.”
When asked by Salon.com in March whether Republicans would have the political will to update the law if the court struck it down, Sensenbrenner was blunt. “I’m gonna make them fix it,” he said at the time.
Full Article: Voting Rights Act Puts GOP in Pickle | Goppers.