Washington D.C. – Tonight, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) released the following statement after the United States Senate failed to advance the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act:
“Tonight, Senate Republicans showed exactly how they want to be remembered in the history books, siding with opponents to our democracy over Foot Soldiers and Freedom Fighters like John Lewis and Dr. King.
“The failure of the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act is particularly devastating given that the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed the Senate 98-0 as recently as 2006. In fact, sixteen of those same Republican Senators who voted to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act in 2006 voted to block voting rights tonight, including Alabama’s Senator Richard Shelby.
“History is replete with setbacks in social movements. But I assure you this is merely a roadblock; it is not the end of the road.
“To the activists, organizers, civil rights groups, and every American fighting on the front lines for the sacred right to vote, I submit to you this: We can be disappointed. We can be frustrated. We can be downright mad. But we must never be deterred.
“Tonight, I’m reminded of the words of the late, great Congressman John Lewis as he stood on the Edmund Pettus Bridge for the final time just four months before his passing. He said, ‘I want to thank each and every one of you for being here; for not giving up; for not giving in; for keeping the faith; for keeping your eyes on the prize.’
“Just as John picked himself back up after being bludgeoned on that bridge for the right of all Americans to vote, so too must we pick ourselves up and continue this fight. Our democracy is at stake.”
Rep. Terri Sewell is the author and lead sponsor of H.R. 4, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore the full protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 after it was gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013. She also serves as Co-Chair of the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus. On August 24, 2021, H.R. 4 passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 219 to 213. On November 3, 2021, it failed in the Senate after nearly every Senate Republican voted to block debate on the bill. In the absence of robust Republican support, Congresswoman Sewell has led her colleagues in calling on the Senate to reform its rules and pass H.R. 4. Tonight, the Senate failed to pass this voting rights bill and failed to pass the rule change by a vote of 52 to 48.