VOTING RIGHTS ADVANCEMENT ACT OF 2019; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 195
(House of Representatives - December 06, 2019)

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[Pages H9308-H9330]
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                 VOTING RIGHTS ADVANCEMENT ACT OF 2019

  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, pursuant to House Resolution 741, I call up 
the bill (H.R. 4) to amend the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to revise the 
criteria for determining which States and political subdivisions are 
subject to section 4 of the Act, and for other purposes, and ask for 
its immediate consideration.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to House Resolution 741, the 
amendment in the nature of a substitute recommended by the Committee on 
the Judiciary, printed in the bill, modified by the amendment printed 
in part A of House Report 116-322, is adopted and the bill, as amended, 
is considered read.
  The text of the bill, as amended, is as follows:

                                 H.R. 4

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This Act may be cited as the ``Voting Rights Advancement 
     Act of 2019''.

     SEC. 2. VIOLATIONS TRIGGERING AUTHORITY OF COURT TO RETAIN 
                   JURISDICTION.

       (a) Types of Violations.--Section 3(c) of the Voting Rights 
     Act of 1965 (52 U.S.C. 10302(c)) is amended by striking 
     ``violations of the fourteenth or fifteenth amendment'' and 
     inserting ``violations of the 14th or 15th Amendment, 
     violations of this Act, or violations of any Federal law that 
     prohibits discrimination in voting on the basis of race, 
     color, or membership in a language minority group,''.
       (b) Conforming Amendment.--Section 3(a) of such Act (52 
     U.S.C. 10302(a)) is amended by striking ``violations of the 
     fourteenth or fifteenth amendment'' and inserting 
     ``violations of the 14th or 15th Amendment, violations of 
     this Act, or violations of any Federal law that prohibits 
     discrimination in voting on the basis of race, color, or 
     membership in a language minority group,''.

     SEC. 3. CRITERIA FOR COVERAGE OF STATES AND POLITICAL 
                   SUBDIVISIONS.

       (a) Determination of States and Political Subdivisions 
     Subject to Section 4(a).--
       (1) In general.--Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act of 
     1965 (52 U.S.C. 10303(b)) is amended to read as follows:
       ``(b) Determination of States and Political Subdivisions 
     Subject to Requirements.--
       ``(1) Existence of voting rights violations during previous 
     25 years.--
       ``(A) Statewide application.--Subsection (a) applies with 
     respect to a State and all political subdivisions within the 
     State during a calendar year if--
       ``(i) 15 or more voting rights violations occurred in the 
     State during the previous 25 calendar years; or
       ``(ii) 10 or more voting rights violations occurred in the 
     State during the previous 25 calendar years, at least one of 
     which was committed by the State itself (as opposed to a 
     political subdivision within the State).
       ``(B) Application to specific political subdivisions.--
     Subsection (a) applies with respect to a political 
     subdivision as a separate unit during a calendar year if 3 or 
     more voting rights violations occurred in the subdivision 
     during the previous 25 calendar years.
       ``(2) Period of application.--
       ``(A) In general.--Except as provided in subparagraph (B), 
     if, pursuant to paragraph (1), subsection (a) applies with 
     respect to a State or political subdivision during a calendar 
     year, subsection (a) shall apply with respect to such State 
     or political subdivision for the period--
       ``(i) that begins on January 1 of the year in which 
     subsection (a) applies; and
       ``(ii) that ends on the date which is 10 years after the 
     date described in clause (i).
       ``(B) No further application after declaratory judgment.--
       ``(i) States.--If a State obtains a declaratory judgment 
     under subsection (a), and the judgment remains in effect, 
     subsection (a) shall no longer apply to such State pursuant 
     to paragraph (1)(A) unless, after the issuance of the 
     declaratory judgment, paragraph (1)(A) applies to the State 
     solely on the basis of voting rights violations occurring 
     after the issuance of the declaratory judgment.
       ``(ii) Political subdivisions.--If a political subdivision 
     obtains a declaratory judgment under subsection (a), and the 
     judgment remains in effect, subsection (a) shall no longer 
     apply to such political subdivision pursuant to paragraph 
     (1), including pursuant to paragraph (1)(A) (relating to the 
     statewide application of subsection (a)), unless, after the 
     issuance of the declaratory judgment, paragraph (1)(B) 
     applies to the political subdivision solely on the basis of 
     voting rights violations occurring after the issuance of the 
     declaratory judgment.
       ``(3) Determination of voting rights violation.--For 
     purposes of paragraph (1), a voting rights violation occurred 
     in a State or political subdivision if any of the following 
     applies:
       ``(A) Final judgment; violation of the 14th or 15th 
     amendment.--In a final judgment (which has not been reversed 
     on appeal), any court of the United States has determined 
     that a denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen of 
     the United States to vote on account of race, color, or 
     membership in a language minority group, in violation of the 
     14th or 15th Amendment, occurred anywhere within the State or 
     subdivision.
       ``(B) Final judgment; violations of this act.--In a final 
     judgment (which has not been reversed on appeal), any court 
     of the United States has determined that a voting 
     qualification or prerequisite to voting or standard, 
     practice, or procedure with respect to voting was imposed or 
     applied or would have been imposed or applied anywhere within 
     the State or subdivision in a manner that resulted or would 
     have resulted in a denial or abridgement of the right of any 
     citizen of the United States to vote on account of race, 
     color, or membership in a language minority group, in 
     violation of subsection (e) or (f), or section 2 or 203 of 
     this Act.
       ``(C) Final judgment; denial of declaratory judgment.--In a 
     final judgment (which has not been reversed on appeal), any 
     court of the United States has denied the request of the

[[Page H9309]]

     State or subdivision for a declaratory judgment under section 
     3(c) or section 5, and thereby prevented a voting 
     qualification or prerequisite to voting or standard, 
     practice, or procedure with respect to voting from being 
     enforced anywhere within the State or subdivision.
       ``(D) Objection by the attorney general.--The Attorney 
     General has interposed an objection under section 3(c) or 
     section 5 (and the objection has not been overturned by a 
     final judgment of a court or withdrawn by the Attorney 
     General), and thereby prevented a voting qualification or 
     prerequisite to voting or standard, practice, or procedure 
     with respect to voting from being enforced anywhere within 
     the State or subdivision.
       ``(E) Consent decree, settlement, or other agreement.--A 
     consent decree, settlement, or other agreement was entered 
     into, which resulted in the alteration or abandonment of a 
     voting practice anywhere in the territory of such State that 
     was challenged on the ground that the practice denied or 
     abridged the right of any citizen of the United States to 
     vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language 
     minority group in violation of subsection (e) or (f), or 
     section 2 or 203 of this Act, or the 14th or 15th Amendment.
       ``(4) Timing of determinations.--
       ``(A) Determinations of voting rights violations.--As early 
     as practicable during each calendar year, the Attorney 
     General shall make the determinations required by this 
     subsection, including updating the list of voting rights 
     violations occurring in each State and political subdivision 
     for the previous calendar year.
       ``(B) Effective upon publication in federal register.--A 
     determination or certification of the Attorney General under 
     this section or under section 8 or 13 shall be effective upon 
     publication in the Federal Register.''.
       (2) Conforming amendments.--Section 4(a) of such Act (52 
     U.S.C. 10303(a)) is amended--
       (A) in paragraph (1), in the first sentence of the matter 
     preceding subparagraph (A), by striking ``any State with 
     respect to which'' and all that follows through ``unless'' 
     and inserting ``any State to which this subsection applies 
     during a calendar year pursuant to determinations made under 
     subsection (b), or in any political subdivision of such State 
     (as such subdivision existed on the date such determinations 
     were made with respect to such State), though such 
     determinations were not made with respect to such subdivision 
     as a separate unit, or in any political subdivision with 
     respect to which this subsection applies during a calendar 
     year pursuant to determinations made with respect to such 
     subdivision as a separate unit under subsection (b), 
     unless'';
       (B) in paragraph (1) in the matter preceding subparagraph 
     (A), by striking the second sentence;
       (C) in paragraph (1)(A), by striking ``(in the case of a 
     State or subdivision seeking a declaratory judgment under the 
     second sentence of this subsection)'';
       (D) in paragraph (1)(B), by striking ``(in the case of a 
     State or subdivision seeking a declaratory judgment under the 
     second sentence of this subsection)'';
       (E) in paragraph (3), by striking ``(in the case of a State 
     or subdivision seeking a declaratory judgment under the 
     second sentence of this subsection)'';
       (F) in paragraph (5), by striking ``(in the case of a State 
     or subdivision which sought a declaratory judgment under the 
     second sentence of this subsection)'';
       (G) by striking paragraphs (7) and (8); and
       (H) by redesignating paragraph (9) as paragraph (7).
       (b) Clarification of Treatment of Members of Language 
     Minority Groups.--Section 4(a)(1) of such Act (52 U.S.C. 
     10303(a)(1)) is amended by striking ``race or color,'' and 
     inserting ``race, color, or in contravention of the 
     guarantees of subsection (f)(2),''.

     SEC. 4. DETERMINATION OF STATES AND POLITICAL SUBDIVISIONS 
                   SUBJECT TO PRECLEARANCE FOR COVERED PRACTICES.

       The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (52 U.S.C. 10301 et seq.) is 
     further amended by inserting after section 4 the following:

     ``SEC. 4A. DETERMINATION OF STATES AND POLITICAL SUBDIVISIONS 
                   SUBJECT TO PRECLEARANCE FOR COVERED PRACTICES.

       ``(a) Practice-Based Preclearance.--
       ``(1) In general.--Each State and each political 
     subdivision shall--
       ``(A) identify any newly enacted or adopted law, 
     regulation, or policy that includes a voting qualification or 
     prerequisite to voting, or a standard, practice, or procedure 
     with respect to voting, that is a covered practice described 
     in subsection (b); and
       ``(B) ensure that no such covered practice is implemented 
     unless or until the State or political subdivision, as the 
     case may be, complies with subsection (c).
       ``(2) Determinations of characteristics of voting-age 
     population.--
       ``(A) In general.--As early as practicable during each 
     calendar year, the Attorney General, in consultation with the 
     Director of the Bureau of the Census and the heads of other 
     relevant offices of the government, shall make the 
     determinations required by this section regarding voting-age 
     populations and the characteristics of such populations, and 
     shall publish a list of the States and political subdivisions 
     to which a voting-age population characteristic described in 
     subsection (b) applies.
       ``(B) Publication in the federal register.--A determination 
     or certification of the Attorney General under this paragraph 
     shall be effective upon publication in the Federal Register.
       ``(b) Covered Practices.--To assure that the right of 
     citizens of the United States to vote is not denied or 
     abridged on account of race, color, or membership in a 
     language minority group as a result of the implementation of 
     certain qualifications or prerequisites to voting, or 
     standards, practices, or procedures with respect to voting 
     newly adopted in a State or political subdivision, the 
     following shall be covered practices subject to the 
     requirements described in subsection (a):
       ``(1) Changes to method of election.--Any change to the 
     method of election--
       ``(A) to add seats elected at-large in a State or political 
     subdivision where--
       ``(i) 2 or more racial groups or language minority groups 
     each represent 20 percent or more of the political 
     subdivision's voting-age population; or
       ``(ii) a single language minority group represents 20 
     percent or more of the voting-age population on Indian lands 
     located in whole or in part in the political subdivision; or
       ``(B) to convert one or more seats elected from a single-
     member district to one or more at-large seats or seats from a 
     multi-member district in a State or political subdivision 
     where--
       ``(i) 2 or more racial groups or language minority groups 
     each represent 20 percent or more of the political 
     subdivision's voting-age population; or
       ``(ii) a single language minority group represents 20 
     percent or more of the voting-age population on Indian lands 
     located in whole or in part in the political subdivision.
       ``(2) Changes to jurisdiction boundaries.--Any change or 
     series of changes within a year to the boundaries of a 
     jurisdiction that reduces by 3 or more percentage points the 
     proportion of the jurisdiction's voting-age population that 
     is comprised of members of a single racial group or language 
     minority group in a State or political subdivision where--
       ``(A) 2 or more racial groups or language minority groups 
     each represent 20 percent or more of the political 
     subdivision's voting-age population; or
       ``(B) a single language minority group represents 20 
     percent or more of the voting-age population on Indian lands 
     located in whole or in part in the political subdivision.
       ``(3) Changes through redistricting.--Any change to the 
     boundaries of election districts in a State or political 
     subdivision where any racial group or language minority group 
     experiences a population increase, over the preceding decade 
     (as calculated by the Bureau of the Census under the most 
     recent decennial census), of at least--
       ``(A) 10,000; or
       ``(B) 20 percent of voting-age population of the State or 
     political subdivision, as the case may be.
       ``(4) Changes in documentation or qualifications to vote.--
     Any change to requirements for documentation or proof of 
     identity to vote such that the requirements will exceed or be 
     more stringent than the requirements for voting that are 
     described in section 303(b) of the Help America Vote Act of 
     2002 (52 U.S.C. 21083(b)) or any change to the requirements 
     for documentation or proof of identity to register to vote 
     that will exceed or be more stringent than such requirements 
     under State law on the day before the date of enactment of 
     the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019.
       ``(5) Changes to multilingual voting materials.--Any change 
     that reduces multilingual voting materials or alters the 
     manner in which such materials are provided or distributed, 
     where no similar reduction or alteration occurs in materials 
     provided in English for such election.
       ``(6) Changes that reduce, consolidate, or relocate voting 
     locations or reduce voting opportunities.--Any change that 
     reduces, consolidates, or relocates voting locations, 
     including early, absentee, and election-day voting locations, 
     or reduces days or hours of in person voting on any Sunday 
     during a period occurring prior to the date of an election 
     during which voters may cast ballots in such election--
       ``(A) in 1 or more census tracts wherein 2 or more language 
     minority groups or racial groups each represent 20 percent or 
     more of the voting-age population of the political 
     subdivision; or
       ``(B) on Indian lands wherein at least 20 percent of the 
     voting-age population belongs to a single language minority 
     group.
       (7) New list maintenance process.--Any change to the 
     maintenance of voter registration lists that adds a new basis 
     for removal from the list of active registered voters or that 
     puts in place a new process for removing a name from the list 
     of active registered voters--
       ``(A) in the case of a political subdivision imposing such 
     change if--
       ``(i) 2 or more racial groups or language minority groups 
     each represent 20 percent or more of the voting-age 
     population of the political subdivision; or
       ``(ii) a single language minority group represents 20 
     percent of more of the voting-age population on Indian lands 
     located in whole or in part in the political subdivision; or
       ``(B) in the case of a State imposing such change, if 2 or 
     more racial groups or language minority groups each represent 
     20 percent of more of the voting-age population of--
       ``(i) the State; or
       ``(ii) a political subdivision in the State, except that 
     the requirements under subsections (a) and (c) shall apply 
     only with respect to each such political subdivision.
       ``(c) Preclearance.--
       ``(1) In general.--Whenever a State or political 
     subdivision with respect to which the requirements set forth 
     in subsection (a) are in effect shall enact, adopt, or seek 
     to implement any covered practice described under subsection 
     (b), such State or subdivision may institute an action in the 
     United States District Court for the District of Columbia for 
     a declaratory judgment that such covered practice neither has 
     the purpose nor will have the effect of denying or

[[Page H9310]]

     abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or 
     membership in a language minority group, and unless and until 
     the court enters such judgment such covered practice shall 
     not be implemented. Notwithstanding the previous sentence, 
     such covered practice may be implemented without such 
     proceeding if the covered practice has been submitted by the 
     chief legal officer or other appropriate official of such 
     State or subdivision to the Attorney General and the Attorney 
     General has not interposed an objection within 60 days after 
     such submission, or upon good cause shown, to facilitate an 
     expedited approval within 60 days after such submission, the 
     Attorney General has affirmatively indicated that such 
     objection will not be made. Neither an affirmative indication 
     by the Attorney General that no objection will be made, nor 
     the Attorney General's failure to object, nor a declaratory 
     judgment entered under this section shall bar a subsequent 
     action to enjoin implementation of such covered practice. In 
     the event the Attorney General affirmatively indicates that 
     no objection will be made within the 60-day period following 
     receipt of a submission, the Attorney General may reserve the 
     right to reexamine the submission if additional information 
     comes to the Attorney General's attention during the 
     remainder of the 60-day period which would otherwise require 
     objection in accordance with this section. Any action under 
     this section shall be heard and determined by a court of 
     three judges in accordance with the provisions of section 
     2284 of title 28, United States Code, and any appeal shall 
     lie to the Supreme Court.
       ``(2) Denying or abridging the right to vote.--Any covered 
     practice described in subsection (b) that has the purpose of 
     or will have the effect of diminishing the ability of any 
     citizens of the United States on account of race, color, or 
     membership in a language minority group, to elect their 
     preferred candidates of choice denies or abridges the right 
     to vote within the meaning of paragraph (1) of this 
     subsection.
       ``(3) Purpose defined.--The term `purpose' in paragraphs 
     (1) and (2) of this subsection shall include any 
     discriminatory purpose.
       ``(4) Purpose of paragraph (2).--The purpose of paragraph 
     (2) of this subsection is to protect the ability of such 
     citizens to elect their preferred candidates of choice.
       ``(d) Enforcement.--The Attorney General or any aggrieved 
     citizen may file an action in a Federal district court to 
     compel any State or political subdivision to satisfy the 
     obligations set forth in this section. Such actions shall be 
     heard and determined by a court of 3 judges under section 
     2284 of title 28, United States Code. In any such action, the 
     court shall provide as a remedy that any voting qualification 
     or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or 
     procedure with respect to voting, that is the subject of the 
     action under this subsection be enjoined unless the court 
     determines that--
       ``(1) the voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, 
     or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting, 
     is not a covered practice described in subsection (b); or
       ``(2) the State or political subdivision has complied with 
     subsection (c) with respect to the covered practice at issue.
       ``(e) Counting of Racial Groups and Language Minority 
     Groups.--For purposes of this section, the calculation of the 
     population of a racial group or a language minority group 
     shall be carried out using the methodology in the guidance 
     promulgated in the Federal Register on February 9, 2011 (76 
     Fed. Reg. 7470).
       ``(f) Special Rule.--For purposes of determinations under 
     this section, any data provided by the Bureau of the Census, 
     whether based on estimation from sample or actual 
     enumeration, shall not be subject to challenge or review in 
     any court.
       ``(g) Multilingual Voting Materials.--In this section, the 
     term `multilingual voting materials' means registration or 
     voting notices, forms, instructions, assistance, or other 
     materials or information relating to the electoral process, 
     including ballots, provided in the language or languages of 
     one or more language minority groups.''.

     SEC. 5. PROMOTING TRANSPARENCY TO ENFORCE THE VOTING RIGHTS 
                   ACT.

       (a) Transparency.--
       (1) In general.--The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (52 U.S.C. 
     10301 et seq.) is amended by inserting after section 5 the 
     following new section:

     ``SEC. 6. TRANSPARENCY REGARDING CHANGES TO PROTECT VOTING 
                   RIGHTS.

       ``(a) Notice of Enacted Changes.--
       ``(1) Notice of changes.--If a State or political 
     subdivision makes any change in any prerequisite to voting or 
     standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting in 
     any election for Federal office that will result in the 
     prerequisite, standard, practice, or procedure being 
     different from that which was in effect as of 180 days before 
     the date of the election for Federal office, the State or 
     political subdivision shall provide reasonable public notice 
     in such State or political subdivision and on the Internet, 
     of a concise description of the change, including the 
     difference between the changed prerequisite, standard, 
     practice, or procedure and the prerequisite, standard, 
     practice, or procedure which was previously in effect. The 
     public notice described in this paragraph, in such State or 
     political subdivision and on the Internet, shall be in a 
     format that is reasonably convenient and accessible to voters 
     with disabilities, including voters who have low vision or 
     are blind.
       ``(2) Deadline for notice.--A State or political 
     subdivision shall provide the public notice required under 
     paragraph (1) not later than 48 hours after making the change 
     involved.
       ``(b) Transparency Regarding Polling Place Resources.--
       ``(1) In general.--In order to identify any changes that 
     may impact the right to vote of any person, prior to the 30th 
     day before the date of an election for Federal office, each 
     State or political subdivision with responsibility for 
     allocating registered voters, voting machines, and official 
     poll workers to particular precincts and polling places shall 
     provide reasonable public notice in such State or political 
     subdivision and on the Internet, of the information described 
     in paragraph (2) for precincts and polling places within such 
     State or political subdivision. The public notice described 
     in this paragraph, in such State or political subdivision and 
     on the Internet, shall be in a format that is reasonably 
     convenient and accessible to voters with disabilities 
     including voters who have low vision or are blind.
       ``(2) Information described.--The information described in 
     this paragraph with respect to a precinct or polling place is 
     each of the following:
       ``(A) The name or number.
       ``(B) In the case of a polling place, the location, 
     including the street address, and whether such polling place 
     is accessible to persons with disabilities.
       ``(C) The voting-age population of the area served by the 
     precinct or polling place, broken down by demographic group 
     if such breakdown is reasonably available to such State or 
     political subdivision.
       ``(D) The number of registered voters assigned to the 
     precinct or polling place, broken down by demographic group 
     if such breakdown is reasonably available to such State or 
     political subdivision.
       ``(E) The number of voting machines assigned, including the 
     number of voting machines accessible to voters with 
     disabilities, including voters who have low vision or are 
     blind.
       ``(F) The number of official paid poll workers assigned.
       ``(G) The number of official volunteer poll workers 
     assigned.
       ``(H) In the case of a polling place, the dates and hours 
     of operation.
       ``(3) Updates in information reported.--If a State or 
     political subdivision makes any change in any of the 
     information described in paragraph (2), the State or 
     political subdivision shall provide reasonable public notice 
     in such State or political subdivision and on the Internet, 
     of the change in the information not later than 48 hours 
     after the change occurs or, if the change occurs fewer than 
     48 hours before the date of the election for Federal office, 
     as soon as practicable after the change occurs. The public 
     notice described in this paragraph in such State or political 
     subdivision and on the Internet shall be in a format that is 
     reasonably convenient and accessible to voters with 
     disabilities including voters who have low vision or are 
     blind.
       ``(c) Transparency of Changes Relating to Demographics and 
     Electoral Districts.--
       ``(1) Requiring public notice of changes.--Not later than 
     10 days after making any change in the constituency that will 
     participate in an election for Federal, State, or local 
     office or the boundaries of a voting unit or electoral 
     district in an election for Federal, State, or local office 
     (including through redistricting, reapportionment, changing 
     from at-large elections to district-based elections, or 
     changing from district-based elections to at-large 
     elections), a State or political subdivision shall provide 
     reasonable public notice in such State or political 
     subdivision and on the Internet, of the demographic and 
     electoral data described in paragraph (3) for each of the 
     geographic areas described in paragraph (2).
       ``(2) Geographic areas described.--The geographic areas 
     described in this paragraph are as follows:
       ``(A) The State as a whole, if the change applies 
     statewide, or the political subdivision as a whole, if the 
     change applies across the entire political subdivision.
       ``(B) If the change includes a plan to replace or eliminate 
     voting units or electoral districts, each voting unit or 
     electoral district that will be replaced or eliminated.
       ``(C) If the change includes a plan to establish new voting 
     units or electoral districts, each such new voting unit or 
     electoral district.
       ``(3) Demographic and electoral data.--The demographic and 
     electoral data described in this paragraph with respect to a 
     geographic area described in paragraph (2) are each of the 
     following:
       ``(A) The voting-age population, broken down by demographic 
     group.
       ``(B) If it is reasonably available to the State or 
     political subdivision involved, an estimate of the population 
     of the area which consists of citizens of the United States 
     who are 18 years of age or older, broken down by demographic 
     group.
       ``(C) The number of registered voters, broken down by 
     demographic group if such breakdown is reasonably available 
     to the State or political subdivision involved.
       ``(D)(i) If the change applies to a State, the actual 
     number of votes, or (if it is not reasonably practicable for 
     the State to ascertain the actual number of votes) the 
     estimated number of votes received by each candidate in each 
     statewide election held during the 5-year period which ends 
     on the date the change involved is made; and
       ``(ii) if the change applies to only one political 
     subdivision, the actual number of votes, or (if it is not 
     reasonably practicable for the political subdivision to 
     ascertain the actual number of votes) in each subdivision-
     wide election held during the 5-year period which ends on the 
     date the change involved is made.
       ``(4) Voluntary compliance by smaller jurisdictions.--
     Compliance with this subsection shall be voluntary for a 
     political subdivision of a State unless the subdivision is 
     one of the following:
       ``(A) A county or parish.
       ``(B) A municipality with a population greater than 10,000, 
     as determined by the Bureau of the Census under the most 
     recent decennial census.

[[Page H9311]]

       ``(C) A school district with a population greater than 
     10,000, as determined by the Bureau of the Census under the 
     most recent decennial census. For purposes of this 
     subparagraph, the term `school district' means the geographic 
     area under the jurisdiction of a local educational agency (as 
     defined in section 9101 of the Elementary and Secondary 
     Education Act of 1965).
       ``(d) Rules Regarding Format of Information.--The Attorney 
     General may issue rules specifying a reasonably convenient 
     and accessible format that States and political subdivisions 
     shall use to provide public notice of information under this 
     section.
       ``(e) No Denial of Right to Vote.--The right to vote of any 
     person shall not be denied or abridged because the person 
     failed to comply with any change made by a State or political 
     subdivision to a voting qualification, standard, practice, or 
     procedure if the State or political subdivision involved did 
     not meet the applicable requirements of this section with 
     respect to the change.
       ``(f) Definitions.--In this section--
       ``(1) the term `demographic group' means each group which 
     section 2 protects from the denial or abridgement of the 
     right to vote on account of race or color, or in 
     contravention of the guarantees set forth in section 4(f)(2);
       ``(2) the term `election for Federal office' means any 
     general, special, primary, or runoff election held solely or 
     in part for the purpose of electing any candidate for the 
     office of President, Vice President, Presidential elector, 
     Senator, Member of the House of Representatives, or Delegate 
     or Resident Commissioner to the Congress; and
       ``(3) the term `persons with disabilities', means 
     individuals with a disability, as defined in section 3 of the 
     Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.''.
       (2) Conforming amendment.--Section 3(a) of such Act (52 
     U.S.C. 10302(a)) is amended by striking ``in accordance with 
     section 6''.
       (b) Effective Date.--The amendment made by subsection 
     (a)(1) shall apply with respect to changes which are made on 
     or after the expiration of the 60-day period which begins on 
     the date of the enactment of this Act.

     SEC. 6. AUTHORITY TO ASSIGN OBSERVERS.

       (a) Clarification of Authority in Political Subdivisions 
     Subject to Preclearance.--Section 8(a)(2)(B) of the Voting 
     Rights Act of 1965 (52 U.S.C. 10305(a)(2)(B)) is amended to 
     read as follows:
       ``(B) in the Attorney General's judgment, the assignment of 
     observers is otherwise necessary to enforce the guarantees of 
     the 14th or 15th Amendment or any provision of this Act or 
     any other Federal law protecting the right of citizens of the 
     United States to vote; or''.
       (b) Assignment of Observers To Enforce Bilingual Election 
     Requirements.--Section 8(a) of such Act (52 U.S.C. 10305(a)) 
     is amended--
       (1) by striking ``or'' at the end of paragraph (1);
       (2) by inserting after paragraph (2) the following:
       ``(3) the Attorney General certifies with respect to a 
     political subdivision that--
       ``(A) the Attorney General has received written meritorious 
     complaints from residents, elected officials, or civic 
     participation organizations that efforts to violate section 
     203 are likely to occur; or
       ``(B) in the Attorney General's judgment, the assignment of 
     observers is necessary to enforce the guarantees of section 
     203;''; and
       (3) by moving the margin for the continuation text 
     following paragraph (3), as added by paragraph (2) of this 
     subsection, two ems to the left.

     SEC. 7. PRELIMINARY INJUNCTIVE RELIEF.

       (a) Clarification of Scope and Persons Authorized To Seek 
     Relief.--Section 12(d) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (52 
     U.S.C. 10308(d)) is amended--
       (1) by striking ``section 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 10, 11, or 
     subsection (b) of this section'' and inserting ``the 14th or 
     15th Amendment, this Act, or any Federal voting rights law 
     that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or 
     membership in a language minority group''; and
       (2) by striking ``the Attorney General may institute for 
     the United States, or in the name of the United States,'' and 
     inserting ``the aggrieved person or (in the name of the 
     United States) the Attorney General may institute''.
       (b) Grounds for Granting Relief.--Section 12(d) of such Act 
     (52 U.S.C. 10308(d)) is amended--
       (1) by striking ``(d) Whenever any person'' and inserting 
     ``(d)(1) Whenever any person'';
       (2) by striking ``(1) to permit'' and inserting ``(A) to 
     permit'';
       (3) by striking ``(2) to count'' and inserting ``(B) to 
     count''; and
       (4) by adding at the end the following new paragraph:
       ``(2)(A) In any action for preliminary relief described in 
     this subsection, the court shall grant the relief if the 
     court determines that the complainant has raised a serious 
     question whether the challenged voting qualification or 
     prerequisite to voting or standard, practice, or procedure 
     violates this Act or the Constitution and, on balance, the 
     hardship imposed upon the defendant by the grant of the 
     relief will be less than the hardship which would be imposed 
     upon the plaintiff if the relief were not granted. In 
     balancing the harms, the court shall give due weight to the 
     fundamental right to cast an effective ballot.
       ``(B) In making its determination under this paragraph with 
     respect to a change in any voting qualification, prerequisite 
     to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure with respect 
     to voting, the court shall consider all relevant factors and 
     give due weight to the following factors, if they are 
     present:
       ``(i) Whether the qualification, prerequisite, standard, 
     practice, or procedure in effect prior to the change was 
     adopted as a remedy for a Federal court judgment, consent 
     decree, or admission regarding--
       ``(I) discrimination on the basis of race or color in 
     violation of the 14th or 15th Amendment;
       ``(II) a violation of this Act; or
       ``(III) voting discrimination on the basis of race, color, 
     or membership in a language minority group in violation of 
     any other Federal or State law.
       ``(ii) Whether the qualification, prerequisite, standard, 
     practice, or procedure in effect prior to the change served 
     as a ground for the dismissal or settlement of a claim 
     alleging--
       ``(I) discrimination on the basis of race or color in 
     violation of the 14th or 15th Amendment;
       ``(II) a violation of this Act; or
       ``(III) voting discrimination on the basis of race, color, 
     or membership in a language minority group in violation of 
     any other Federal or State law.
       ``(iii) Whether the change was adopted fewer than 180 days 
     before the date of the election with respect to which the 
     change is to take effect.
       ``(iv) Whether the defendant has failed to provide timely 
     or complete notice of the adoption of the change as required 
     by applicable Federal or State law.''.
       (c) Grounds for Stay or Interlocutory Appeal.--Section 
     12(d) of such Act (52 U.S.C. 10308(d)) is further amended by 
     adding at the end the following:
       ``(3) A jurisdiction's inability to enforce its voting or 
     election laws, regulations, policies, or redistricting plans, 
     standing alone, shall not be deemed to constitute irreparable 
     harm to the public interest or to the interests of a 
     defendant in an action arising under the U.S. Constitution or 
     any Federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of 
     race, color, or membership in a language minority group in 
     the voting process, for the purposes of determining whether a 
     stay of a court's order or an interlocutory appeal under 
     section 1253 of title 28, United States Code, is 
     warranted.''.

     SEC. 8. DEFINITIONS.

       Title I of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (52 U.S.C. 10301) 
     is amended by adding at the end the following:

     ``SEC. 21. DEFINITIONS.

       ``In this Act:
       ``(1) Indian.--The term `Indian' has the meaning given the 
     term in section 4 of the Indian Self-Determination and 
     Education Assistance Act.
       ``(2) Indian lands.--The term `Indian lands' means--
       ``(A) any Indian country of an Indian tribe, as such term 
     is defined in section 1151 of title 18, United States Code;
       ``(B) any land in Alaska that is owned, pursuant to the 
     Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, by an Indian tribe that 
     is a Native village (as such term is defined in section 3 of 
     such Act), or by a Village Corporation that is associated 
     with the Indian tribe (as such term is defined in section 3 
     of such Act);
       ``(C) any land on which the seat of government of the 
     Indian tribe is located; and
       ``(D) any land that is part or all of a tribal designated 
     statistical area associated with the Indian tribe, or is part 
     or all of an Alaska Native village statistical area 
     associated with the tribe, as defined by the Bureau of the 
     Census for the purposes of the most recent decennial census.
       ``(3) Indian tribe.--The term `Indian tribe' or `tribe' has 
     the meaning given the term `Indian tribe' in section 4 of the 
     Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act.
       ``(4) Tribal government.--The term `Tribal Government' 
     means the recognized governing body of an Indian Tribe.
       ``(5) Voting-age population.--The term `voting-age 
     population' means the numerical size of the population within 
     a State, within a political subdivision, or within a 
     political subdivision that contains Indian lands, as the case 
     may be, that consists of persons age 18 or older, as 
     calculated by the Bureau of the Census under the most recent 
     decennial census.''.

     SEC. 9. ATTORNEYS' FEES.

       Section 14(c) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (52 U.S.C. 
     10310(c)) is amended by adding at the end the following:
       ``(4) The term `prevailing party' means a party to an 
     action that receives at least some of the benefit sought by 
     such action, states a colorable claim, and can establish that 
     the action was a significant cause of a change to the status 
     quo.''.

     SEC. 10. OTHER TECHNICAL AND CONFORMING AMENDMENTS.

       (a) Actions Covered Under Section 3.--Section 3(c) of the 
     Voting Rights Act of 1965 (52 U.S.C. 10302(c)) is amended--
       (1) by striking ``any proceeding instituted by the Attorney 
     General or an aggrieved person under any statute to enforce'' 
     and inserting ``any action under any statute in which a party 
     (including the Attorney General) seeks to enforce''; and
       (2) by striking ``at the time the proceeding was 
     commenced'' and inserting ``at the time the action was 
     commenced''.
       (b) Clarification of Treatment of Members of Language 
     Minority Groups.--Section 4(f) of such Act (52 U.S.C. 
     10303(f)) is amended--
       (1) in paragraph (1), by striking the second sentence; and
       (2) by striking paragraphs (3) and (4).
       (c) Period During Which Changes in Voting Practices Are 
     Subject to Preclearance Under Section 5.--Section 5 of such 
     Act (52 U.S.C. 10304) is amended--
       (1) in subsection (a), by striking ``based upon 
     determinations made under the first sentence of

[[Page H9312]]

     section 4(b) are in effect'' and inserting ``are in effect 
     during a calendar year'';
       (2) in subsection (a), by striking ``November 1, 1964'' and 
     all that follows through ``November 1, 1972'' and inserting 
     ``the applicable date of coverage''; and
       (3) by adding at the end the following new subsection:
       ``(e) The term `applicable date of coverage' means, with 
     respect to a State or political subdivision--
       ``(1) June 25, 2013, if the most recent determination for 
     such State or subdivision under section 4(b) was made on or 
     before December 31, 2019; or
       ``(2) the date on which the most recent determination for 
     such State or subdivision under section 4(b) was made, if 
     such determination was made after December 31, 2019.''.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The bill, as amended, shall be debatable for 
1 hour equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority 
member of the Committee on the Judiciary.
  The gentleman from New York (Mr. Nadler) and the gentleman from 
Georgia (Mr. Collins) each will control 30 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from New York (Mr. Nadler).


                             General Leave

  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may 
have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks and 
insert extraneous material on H.R. 4.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from New York?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 3 minutes.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 4, the Voting Rights 
Advancement Act of 2019.
  H.R. 4 is comprehensive and much-needed legislation to restore the 
Voting Rights Act of 1965 to its full vitality. This bill responds to 
the Supreme Court's disastrous 2013 decision in Shelby County v. 
Holder, which effectively gutted the act's most important enforcement 
mechanism, section 5, which requires jurisdictions with a history of 
racial discrimination in voting to obtain Justice Department or Federal 
court approval before any changes to their voting laws can take effect.
  The Court struck down the coverage formula that determined which 
jurisdictions would be subject to preclearance, but it expressly said 
that Congress could draft another formula based on current conditions. 
That, among other things, is exactly what H.R. 4 does.
  This bill is the result of an extensive process that included 18 
hearings before three different House committees. This process 
developed a record demonstrating that States and localities and, in 
particular, those that were formerly subject to preclearance, have 
engaged in various voter suppression tactics, such as imposing 
burdensome proof of citizenship laws, polling place closures, purges of 
voter rolls, and significant scale-backs to early voting periods.
  These kinds of voting restrictions have a disproportionate and 
negative impact on racial and language minority voters and deprive them 
of a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution.
  In short, the record is clear that substantial voter suppression 
exists across the country and that H.R. 4's coverage formula is 
necessary to address this discrimination.
  This legislation not only updates the existing formula to ensure that 
it accounts for current conditions, but it is also designed so that the 
formula will update itself regularly as conditions change, thereby 
directly responding to the Court's concern in Shelby County.
  Not surprisingly, the suspension of preclearance unleashed a deluge 
of voter suppression laws across the Nation, making restoration of this 
tool even more necessary.
  As we consider the record and the need for H.R. 4, it is worth 
remembering why Congress enacted preclearance in the first place. 
Before the Voting Rights Act, we saw, essentially, a game of whack-a-
mole in which States and localities could engage in voter suppression, 
secure in the knowledge that any discriminatory law that was struck 
down by a court could quickly be replaced by another. Preclearance 
successfully put an end to this game of whack-a-mole.
  I want to thank Terri Sewell for crafting this important legislation 
and for her efforts over the last several years on this bill.
  I also want to recognize the leadership of Marcia Fudge, chair of the 
House Administration's Subcommittee on Elections, for her extraordinary 
work in conducting numerous field hearings examining voting problems 
around the country, as well as Constitution Subcommittee Chairman   
Steve Cohen, who presided over many hearings in the Judiciary Committee 
to develop the substantial record on which this legislation is based.
  The Voting Rights Act represents one of the Nation's most important 
civil rights victories, one achieved by those who marched, struggled, 
and even died to secure the right to vote for all Americans. I urge my 
colleagues to honor their sacrifices and to enable section 5 once again 
to protect the rights of all Americans to vote.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that the gentleman from 
Tennessee (Mr. Cohen) control the remainder of the time on the majority 
side.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from New York?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I 
may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, the right to vote is of paramount importance in a 
democracy, and its protection from discriminatory barriers has been 
grounded in Federal law since the Civil War and, more recently, in the 
Voting Rights Act of 1965.
  A Supreme Court decision called Shelby County will be mentioned here 
many times today.
  And, also, I want to say, it has been mentioned many times that the 
Supreme Court directed or instructed this body to do something. They 
did not. What they did say in the decision was that, if Congress wants 
to, they can revisit this. And, as we could on most anything, we are 
revisiting. But to say that we were directed to is a little bit of an 
overstatement and just needs to be clarified.
  It is important to remember that this Supreme Court decision only 
struck down one outdated provision of the Voting Rights Act, namely, an 
outdated formula based on decades-old data that doesn't hold true 
anymore, describing which jurisdictions had to get approval from the 
Department of Justice before their voting rules went into effect.
  It is important to point out that other very important provisions of 
the Voting Rights Act remain in place and were not changed, including 
section 2 and section 3.

  Section 2 applies nationwide and prohibits voting practices or 
procedures that discriminate on the basis of race, color, or the 
ability to speak English. Section 2 is enforced through Federal 
lawsuits, just like other Federal civil rights laws. The United States 
and civil rights organizations have brought many cases to enforce the 
guarantees of section 2 in court, and they may do so in the future.
  Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act also remains in place. Section 3 
authorizes Federal courts to impose preclearance requirements on States 
and political subdivisions that have enacted voting procedures that 
treat people differently based on race in violation of the 14th and 
15th Amendments.
  If a State or political subdivision is found by the Federal courts to 
have treated people differently based on race, then the court has 
discretion to retain supervisory jurisdiction and impose preclearance 
requirements on the State or political subdivision, as the court sees 
fit, until a future date, at the court's discretion.
  This means that such a State or political subdivision would have to 
submit all future voting rule changes for approval to either the court 
itself or the Department of Justice before such rule changes could go 
into effect.
  As set out in the Code of Federal Regulations: ``Under section 3(c) 
of the Voting Rights Act, a court, in voting rights litigation, can 
order as relief that a jurisdiction not subject to the preclearance 
requirement of section 5 preclear its voting changes by submitting them 
either to the court or to the Attorney General.''
  Again, section 3's procedures remain available today to those 
challenging voting rules as discriminatory. Just a couple of years ago, 
for example, U.S. District Court Judge Lee Rosenthal issued an opinion 
in a redistricting

[[Page H9313]]

case that required the city of Pasadena, Texas, to be monitored by the 
Justice Department because it had intentionally changed its city 
council districts to decrease Hispanic influence.
  The city, which the court ruled has a ``long history of 
discrimination against minorities,'' was required to have their future 
voting rules changes precleared by the Department of Justice for the 
next 6 years, during which time the Federal judge ``retains 
jurisdiction . . . to review before enforcement any change to the 
election map or plan that was in effect in Pasadena on December 1, 
2013.''
  A change to the city's election plan can be enforced without review 
by the judge only if it is submitted to the U.S. Attorney General and 
the Department of Justice and has not objected within 60 days.
  Voting rights are protected in this country, including in my own 
State of Georgia, where Latino and African American voter turnout has 
soared. Between 2014 and 2018, voter turnout increased by double 
digits, both for men and women in both of these communities, and we are 
committed to ensuring the ballot box is open to all eligible voters.
  We are committed to ensuring constitutional means are used to 
accomplish that. We are committed to protecting the value of every 
American voice by securing our elections from fraud. These are our 
priorities and our principles.
  Full protections are afforded under current Federal law for all those 
with valid claims of discrimination in voting. Unfortunately, the bill 
before us today would turn those Federal shields that protect voters 
into political weapons. This bill would essentially federalize State 
and local election laws when there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever 
that those States or localities engaged in any discriminatory behavior 
when it comes to voting.
  The Supreme Court has made it clear that this type of Federal control 
over State and local elections is unconstitutional because Congress can 
only do that when there is proof of actual discrimination, which is 
what the bill is supposed to be about.
  House Democrats continue their breakneck speed of everything else 
that we have going on, and now, today, a partisan bill comes to the 
floor to prevent States from running their own State and local 
elections when we are dealing with this very issue of impeachment and 
discussing elections at the same time.
  When can we stop and ask: What is best for the United States? What is 
best for our voters?
  Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to join me in opposing H.R. 4, and 
I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. COHEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 4, the Voting Rights 
Advancement Act of 2019. This critical civil rights bill, the result of 
strong leadership by my colleagues, Ms. Terri Sewell and Ms. Marcia 
Fudge, will restore the most important enforcement mechanism of the 
Voting Rights Act of 1965, its preclearance provision, by establishing 
a new coverage formula to determine which jurisdictions will be subject 
to preclearance.
  The Supreme Court, when it struck down the previous preclearance 
requirement in 2013, asked Congress to come back with a new 
preclearance requirement. That is what we are doing.
  This formula is self-updating because it requires a continuous, 25-
year look back to determine whether, at any given moment, a 
jurisdiction has engaged in such pervasive discrimination so as to 
justify imposing a Federal preclearance requirement on any changes to 
voting laws that it may make.
  This formula reflects the substantial evidentiary record developed in 
numerous hearings before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the 
Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, of which I am honored 
to serve as chair, and other committees of this House.
  In short, it reflects current conditions and demonstrates the current 
need for preclearance. It is, therefore, responsive to the Supreme 
Court's reasoning in Shelby County v. Holder that wrongfully, in my 
view, struck down the VRA's previous coverage formula.

  Maya Angelou told us: ``When somebody shows you who they are, believe 
them. . . .'' This is what the court does with the preclearance. When 
they show you that they are going to discriminate against people and 
try to make it harder for people to vote, believe them and make it more 
difficult and make them come on the front end and show what they are 
doing is right.
  We have heard from my colleagues some of the egregious examples of 
continuing and perverse voter suppression efforts by States and 
localities since Shelby County, particularly those that used to be 
subject to preclearance under the old formula. These include poll 
closures and relocations, changes in district boundaries, voter purges, 
and barriers to voter registration that target racial and language 
minority voters.
  I want to take this opportunity to respond to one of the main 
arguments my Republican colleagues have raised. We keep hearing from 
them that H.R. 4 would represent an unconstitutional Federal takeover 
of State and local elections.
  Born in the South, I can tell you that this argument is old wine in a 
new bottle. It is what previous generations called ``States' rights,'' 
a loaded term that was used by segregationists and, before them, by the 
defenders of slavery to justify a legal regime of white supremacy and 
racial ideology that said African Americans were, at best, second-class 
citizens and, at worst, less than human beings.
  From slavery, to Jim Crow, to what we have today: States' rights.
  The Civil War and the 14th and 15th Amendments that followed settled 
the question that the other side raises by fundamentally reordering the 
relationship between Congress and the States, making it clear that 
Congress not only had the power, but the duty, to intervene against 
States when they engaged in racial discrimination to deny racial 
minorities the right to vote.
  And States did it and did it and did it, and most of them were in the 
South, and most of them screamed, ``States' rights.''
  Do not be fooled by the argument that H.R. 4 somehow exceeds our 
constitutional authority to address racial discrimination in voting. 
The other side will say that the Reconstruction Amendments prohibit 
only intentional discrimination and that, to the extent that H.R. 4 
also addresses discriminatory effects of voter suppression tactics, we 
are not allowed to address those in this bill.
  The Supreme Court, in City of Rome v. U.S., made clear that our 
authority under the 15th Amendment allows us to do just that, and that 
is what we should do.
  H.R. 4 represents exactly what the Reconstruction Amendments 
contemplated: Congress intervening against States in the face of 
overwhelming evidence of continuing racial discrimination in voting.
  We must not shirk our constitutional duty. We must pass H.R. 4.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my 
time.
  Mr. COHEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the gentlewoman from 
Ohio (Ms. Fudge), who is an invaluable part of this work in the House 
Administration Committee and had a special committee to work on this. 
This is very close to her heart.
  Ms. FUDGE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
  Mr. Speaker, I remember well the day I stood here and raised my right 
hand and swore before God and country that I would support and defend 
the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and 
domestic, and that I would bear true faith and allegiance to the same.
  If you believe in the oath you took and they were not just empty 
words, you must vote to support H.R. 4.
  If you believe that Black and Brown people, Asian citizens, Native 
Americans, language minorities, students, the poor, rural and urban 
citizens are part of ``we, the people,'' you must vote to support H.R. 
4.
  To quote our former colleague, the Honorable Barbara Jordan: ``We, 
the people. . . . I was not included in that `We, the people.' . . . 
But through the process of amendment, interpretation, and court 
decision, I . . . am finally . . . included in `We, the people.'''
  She went on to say: ``My faith in the Constitution is whole. It is 
complete. It

[[Page H9314]]

is total. I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the 
diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution.''
  The Constitution is the very foundation of our democracy. If your 
faith in the Constitution is whole, complete, and total, you must vote 
for H.R. 4.
  Sadly, the United States has a long, dark history of denying or 
restricting the right of people to vote who look like me.
  The Black Brigade of Cincinnati, the Buffalo Soldiers, the Tuskegee 
Airmen, they protected, fought, and many died for this country, but 
their ability to vote was either outlawed or suppressed.

                              {time}  1045

    John Lewis and Dr. King were attacked. Fannie Lou Hamer was 
brutally beaten, and Medgar Evers was shot down in his very own 
driveway.
  We, the people.
  The 14th Amendment says that: ``All persons born or naturalized in 
the United States . . . , are citizens. . . . No State shall make or 
enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges . . . of citizens. . 
. .''
  The 15th Amendment guarantees: ``The right of citizens of the United 
States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or 
by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of 
servitude.''
  We are all we, the people.
  The 24th Amendment prohibits the payment of poll and other taxes to 
vote. I believe that the purchase of unnecessary forms of 
identification and payment of fines and fees are just other forms of 
poll taxes.
  And nowhere in the Constitution does it say, if you do not vote in 
one election, you lose your right to vote. Voting is a right; it is not 
a requirement. Your right to vote is not a use-it-or-lose-it situation. 
In my opinion, purging is a constitutional violation.
  The same goes for closing polling places and moving them so far that 
it takes hours to travel there and back, or reducing early voting hours 
such that it discriminates against those who use those shortened hours.
  I implore you not to place party over patriotism, wrong over right. I 
ask you to do the right thing. Our Nation needs to know if your faith 
in the Constitution is whole, if it is complete, and if it is total. 
And if it is, you will vote ``yes'' on H.R. 4.
  How many more generations will be required to fight for their 
constitutional right to vote?
  We are the greatest democracy in the history of the world against 
which all other democracies are judged. If your faith in the 
Constitution is whole, complete, and total, you must do the right 
thing, not the political thing.
  Do the right thing. Vote ``yes'' on H.R. 4.
  Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may 
consume to the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Rodney Davis), the 
Republican leader on the House Administration Committee.
  Mr. RODNEY DAVIS of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, I thank my good friend, 
the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, Mr. Collins, for 
yielding today.
  Today, I rise in opposition of H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement 
Act of 2019.
  I fully support the bipartisan Voting Rights Act, which is still in 
place today. However, the bill we are debating today, H.R. 4, is not a 
reauthorization of the important, historically bipartisan Voting Rights 
Act that has helped to prevent discrimination at the ballot box since 
1965.
  It has only been since the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Shelby 
County v. Holder that Democrats have decided to politicize the Voting 
Rights Act. This landmark decision left the vast majority of the Voting 
Rights Act in place today.
  The only thing that was struck down from the VRA was the formula that 
was using 40-year-old data to determine which States were placed under 
the control of the Department of Justice, this process known as 
preclearance. The Supreme Court deemed this data and formula was no 
longer accurate nor relevant for our country's current climate.
  Chief Justice Roberts said: ``The Voting Rights Act of 1965 employed 
extraordinary measures to address an extraordinary problem.''
  He went on to say that: ``Regardless of how to look at the record, no 
one can fairly say that it shows anything approaching the `pervasive,' 
`flagrant,' `widespread,' and `rampant' discrimination that faced'' 
this ``Congress,'' this institution, ``in 1965, and that clearly 
distinguished the covered jurisdictions from the rest of the Nation.''
  So what does H.R. 4 do? It doubles down on federalizing elections and 
would attempt to put every State and jurisdiction in this country under 
preclearance.
  The majority has been unable to determine the number of States or 
jurisdictions that would be covered by this preclearance if H.R. 4 were 
to become law. Apparently, we have to pass this bill before the 
American people would know if they would or would not be subjected to 
it.
  The majority knows H.R. 4 is bad policy that will cripple thousands 
of local election officials across the country if it were ever to 
become law.
  Let me be clear: H.R. 4 is not a Voting Rights Act reauthorization 
bill. H.R. 4 is about two things: placing the unnecessary preclearance 
requirements on to States, and the Democrats giving the Department of 
Justice control over all election activity.
  My committee, the Committee on House Administration, has jurisdiction 
over Federal election policy, but it does not have jurisdiction over 
the Voting Rights Act. That goes to the Judiciary Committee. Despite 
that lack of jurisdiction, our Subcommittee on Elections held seven 
field hearings and one listening session across this great country on 
the Voting Rights Act, encompassing eight different States and over 
13,000 miles of air travel.
  Even with this gargantuan effort to gather evidence to reinstate the 
struck-down formula from the VRA that we are discussing today, the 
Democrats were still unable to produce a single voter who wanted to 
vote and was unable to cast a ballot.
  This isn't a bad thing. It is a fantastic thing. It ought to be 
celebrated. We should be celebrating that Americans who wanted to vote 
were able to do that, and credit should be given to the Voting Rights 
Act for helping to achieve that.
  The 2018 midterm election produced the highest voting turnout in four 
decades--and that is according to data from our Census Bureau--
especially among minority voters.
  The sections of the Voting Rights Act that are currently in effect 
are continuing to help safeguard the public from discrimination at the 
ballot box. Every eligible American who wants to vote in this country's 
elections should be able to cast a ballot. That is why we have the 
Voting Rights Act, a great example, until today, of a bipartisan 
solution that is still working today to help Americans and protect from 
voter discrimination.

  I have now seen four election-related bills from the majority come to 
this floor, and all of them have the same common theme: catchy titles 
and federalizing elections, a responsibility the Constitution gives to 
our States.
  H.R. 4 is simply more of the same. It is a solution in search of a 
problem. That is why I cannot support this legislation.
  I ask my colleagues to join me in making sure States maintain control 
of their elections.
  Mr. COHEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Before I ask for unanimous consent so that the gentleman from New 
York (Mr. Nadler) can take over the remainder of the time, I would just 
like to comment.
  I have been in this Congress for 13 years now, and before these 
sections were added that the Republicans oppose, there was simply the 
Voting Rights Act with a new coverage formula, sponsored by Mr. 
Sensenbrenner, and it had but less than 10 Republicans on it.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield the balance of my time to the gentleman from New 
York (Mr. Nadler), and I ask unanimous consent that he may control that 
time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Tennessee?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the gentlewoman from 
Alabama (Ms. Sewell), the chief sponsor of this legislation.

[[Page H9315]]

  

  Ms. SEWELL of Alabama. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 
4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act.
  Nothing is more fundamental to our democracy than the right to vote, 
and nothing is more precious to my district, Alabama's Seventh 
Congressional District, than the fight to protect the right to vote for 
all Americans.
  It was in my district, Birmingham, Montgomery, Marion, and Selma, 
that ordinary Americans peacefully protested for the equal right to 
vote for African Americans.
  Voting is personal to me, not just because I represent Alabama's 
Civil Rights District, but because it was on the streets of my hometown 
of Selma that foot soldiers shed their blood on the Edmund Pettus 
Bridge so that all Americans, regardless of race, could vote.
  It was on that same bridge in Selma, Alabama, that our colleague, a 
then 26-year-old,   John Lewis, was bludgeoned by State troopers with 
billy clubs in the name of justice. Their efforts led to the passage of 
the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the seminal and most effective 
legislation passed in this Congress to protect the right of all 
Americans to vote.
  Those protections were gutted in 2013 by the Supreme Court decision 
in Shelby v. Holder when the Court ruled that Section 4(b) of the VRA 
was unconstitutional, stating that the coverage formula that Congress 
adopted was outdated.
  Well, today, 6 years after the Shelby decision, Congress is finally 
answering the Supreme Court's call to action by passing H.R. 4. H.R. 4 
creates a new coverage formula to determine which States will be 
subject to the VRA's preclearance requirement that is based on current, 
recent evidence of voter discrimination.
  In addition, the bill also establishes practice-based preclearance 
authority and increases transparency by requiring reasonable notice for 
voter changes.
  This new voter formula is narrowly tailored to cover the States and 
jurisdictions where there has been a resurgence of significant and 
pervasive discriminatory voting practices. It does not include those 
areas where such preclearance would be considered to be an 
unjustifiable burden.
  In all, these changes will restore the full strength of the Voting 
Rights Act by stopping discrimination before it takes place, as 
Congress had intended in the pasting of the VRA.
  Mr. Speaker, old battles have become new again. The fight that began 
in Selma, Alabama, in 1965 still persists. Yes, Selma is now.
  While literacy tests and poll taxes no longer exist, certain States 
and local jurisdictions have passed laws that are modern-day barriers 
to voting. So as long as voter suppression exists, the need for the 
full protections of the VRA will be required, and that is why it is 
critically important that we fully restore the protections of the 
Voting Rights Act by passing H.R. 4.
  Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Judiciary Committee and the House 
Administration's Subcommittee on Elections for hosting the 17 hearings 
and collecting the thousands and thousands of pages of documentation 
supporting the report on H.R. 4.
  Likewise, I include in the Record letters of support for H.R. 4 from 
outside groups that detail the existence of current voter suppression.

         International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace & 
           Agricultural Implement Workers of America--UAW,
                                                 December 5, 2019.
       Dear Representative: On behalf of the more than one million 
     active and retired members of the International Union, United 
     Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of 
     America (UAW), I am writing to strongly urge you to vote 
     'YES' on the Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4).
       This legislation is badly needed as the disastrous Supreme 
     Court's Shelby v. Holder decision has led to the 
     proliferation of state laws that have made it more difficult 
     for the American people to exercise their fundamental voting 
     rights. In the last decade, 25 states have enacted new voting 
     restrictions, including strict photo ID requirements, early 
     voting cutbacks, and registration restrictions. Registered 
     voters have been intentionally purged from voter rolls and 
     states have closed hundreds of polling stations with a 
     history of racial discrimination since the court ruled that 
     they did not need federal approval to change their rules. 
     These repeated attacks have severely undermined people's 
     fundamental voting rights, which are the foundational 
     principles of our representative democracy.
       H.R. 4 helps protect citizens' ability to register to vote 
     and provides real enforcement so that marginalized 
     communities will have proper access to the ballot box. 
     Empowering Americans to vote and ensuring that everyone has 
     equal access to participate in the voting process is a core 
     value of our democracy.
       The UAW strongly urges you to vote `YES' on the Voting 
     Rights Advancement Act (H.R 4).
           Sincerely,
                                                      Josh Nassar,
     Legislative Director.
                                  ____

                                                 National Hispanic


                                            Leadership Agenda,

                                                 December 4, 2019.
     Re NHLA Urges Support of the Voting Rights Advancement Act, 
         H.R. 4.

     House of Representatives,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Representative: We write on behalf of the National 
     Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), a coalition of the 
     nation's leading Latino nonpartisan civil rights and advocacy 
     organizations, to urge you to vote ``yes'' on the Voting 
     Rights Advancement Act of 2019 (VRAA), H.R. 4. This 
     legislation restores necessary voting protections to ensure 
     that discriminatory voting-related changes are blocked before 
     they are implemented. There is no right more fundamental to 
     our democracy than the right to vote, and for more than 50 
     years the Voting Rights Act of 1965
       (VRA) provided voters with one of the most effective 
     mechanisms for protecting that right. The VRAA would provide 
     Latino and other voters of color new and forward-looking 
     protections against voter discrimination. The Latino 
     community cannot wait for another federal election cycle to 
     go by without effective mechanisms to guard against 
     discriminatory voting-related changes. NHLA will closely 
     monitor this matter for inclusion in future NHLA scorecards 
     evaluating Member support for the Latino community.
       The VRA is regarded as one of the most important and 
     effective pieces of civil rights legislation in our country's 
     history due to its ability to protect voters of color from 
     discriminatory voting practices before they occurred. In 
     2013, the Supreme Court, in its decision in Shelby County v. 
     Holder, struck down the formula that determined which states 
     and political subdivisions were required to seek federal pre-
     approval of their voting-related changes to ensure they did 
     not discriminate against minority voters. The Supreme Court 
     put the onus on Congress to enact a new formula better 
     tailored to current history, and after the decision, states 
     or political subdivisions were no longer required to seek 
     preclearance unless ordered by a federal court in the course 
     of litigation.
       H.R. 4 includes a new geographic coverage formula to 
     identify those jurisdictions that will have to ``preclear'' 
     their voting-related changes, as well as new provisions 
     requiring practice-based preclearance, or ``known-practices 
     coverage.'' Known-practices coverage would focus 
     administrative or judicial review narrowly on suspect 
     practices that are most likely to be tainted by 
     discriminatory intent or to have discriminatory effects, as 
     demonstrated by a broad historical record. Any jurisdiction 
     in the U.S. that is home to a racially, ethnically, and/or 
     linguistically diverse population and that seeks to adopt a 
     covered practice will be required to preclear the change 
     before implementation. The known practices covered under the 
     bill include. 1) changes in method of election to change a 
     single-member district to an at-large seat or to add an at-
     large seat to a governing body; 2) certain redistricting 
     plans where there is significant minority population growth 
     in the previous decade; 3) annexations or deannexations that 
     would significantly alter the composition of the 
     jurisdiction's electorate; 4) certain identification and 
     proof of citizenship requirements; 5) certain polling place 
     closures and realignments; and 6) the withdrawal of 
     multilingual materials and assistance not matched by the 
     reduction of those services in English.
       Preclearance is an efficient and effective form of 
     alternative dispute resolution that prevents the 
     implementation of voting-related changes that would deny 
     voters of color a voice in our elections. Preclearance saves 
     taxpayers in covered jurisdictions a considerable amount of 
     money because the jurisdiction can obtain quick decisions 
     without having to pay attorneys, expert witnesses, or 
     prevailing plaintiff's fees and costs that are incurred in 
     complex and expensive litigation. In December 2018, 
     redistricting litigation in North Carolina had already cost 
     $5.6 million in taxpayer dollars. The litigation related to 
     Texas's redistricting scheme was also a multi-million dollar 
     affair, ultimately paid by taxpayers for the discriminatory 
     actions of government officials.
       Across the U.S., racial, ethnic, and language-minority 
     communities are rapidly growing -- the country's total 
     population is projected to become majority-minority by 2044. 
     It is no secret that many states and local jurisdictions fear 
     losing political power, and the rapid growth of these 
     communities is often seen as a threat to existing political 
     establishments. Between 2007 and 2014, five of the ten U.S. 
     counties with the most rapid rates of Latino population 
     growth were in North Dakota or South Dakota, two states whose 
     overall Latino populations still

[[Page H9316]]

     account for less than ten percent of their residents, and are 
     dwarfed by Latino communities in states like New Mexico, 
     Texas, and California. It is precisely this rapid growth of 
     different racial or ethnic populations that results in the 
     perception that emerging communities of color are a threat to 
     those in political power.
       Last month, MALDEF, NALEO--both members of NHLA--and Asian 
     Americans Advancing Justice--AAJC, released a new report, 
     Practice-Based Preclearance: Protecting Against Tactics 
     Persistently Used to Silence Minority Communities' Votes, 
     detailing the need for forward-looking VRA legislation that 
     provides protections for emerging minority populations. H.R. 
     4 identifies different voting changes most likely to 
     discriminatorily affect access to the vote in diverse 
     jurisdictions whose minority populations are attaining 
     visibility and influence. The report looked at these 
     identified practices and found, based on two separate 
     analyses of voting discrimination, that these known practices 
     occur with great frequency in the modern era.
       Congress must protect the access to the polls, and it must 
     include a known-practices coverage formula. H.R. 4 is a 
     critical piece of legislation that will restore voter 
     protections that were lost due to the Shelby County decision. 
     NHLA urges you to stand with voters and to vote ``yes'' on 
     H.R. 4.
           Sincerely,
     Thomas A. Saenz,
       MALDEF, President and General Counsel, NHLA Chair, Civil 
     Rights Committee, Co-Chair.
     Juan Cartagena,
       LatinoJustice PRLDEF, President and General Counsel, Civil 
     Rights Committee NHLA, Co-Chair.
                                  ____



                               National Education Association,

                                                 October 22, 2019.
     House Committee on the Judiciary,
     U.S. House,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Representative: On behalf of the 3 million members of 
     the National Education Association who work in 14,000 
     communities across the nation, thank you for holding this 
     markup of the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019 (H.R. 4). 
     We urge you to VOTE YES on the Voting Rights Advancement Act, 
     which we believe combats voter discrimination and protects 
     the most fundamental right in our democracy. Votes on this 
     issue may be included in NEA's Report Card for the 116th 
     Congress.
       The U.S. Supreme Court in Shelby v. Holder invalidated a 
     crucial provision in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that 
     prevented states with a history of discriminating against 
     voters from changing their voting laws and practices without 
     preclearance by federal officials. This federal review was an 
     important feature of the Voting Rights Act; doing away with 
     it has virtually annulled the federal oversight that was--and 
     remains--crucial to ensuring that millions of people have 
     equal access to the ballot box After the 2013 Shelby 
     decision, several states changed their voting practices in 
     controversial ways that created barriers for people of color, 
     low-income people, transgender people, college students, the 
     elderly, and those with disabilities. The Voting Rights 
     Advancement Act takes several steps toward reversing this 
     harmful, undemocratic trend, including:
       Modernizing the Voting Rights Act so that preclearance 
     covers states and localities with a pattern of 
     discrimination;
       Requiring jurisdictions to publicly disclose, 180 days 
     before an election, all voting changes; and
       Authorizing the Attorney General, either on Election Day or 
     during early voting, to send federal observers to any 
     jurisdiction where there is a substantial risk of 
     discrimination at the polls.
       NEA members live, work, and vote in every precinct, county, 
     and congressional district in the United States. They take 
     their obligation to vote seriously because it is essential to 
     protecting the opportunities that they believe all students 
     should have. Furthermore, educators teach students that 
     voting is a responsibility of citizenship, a privilege for 
     which many people have fought and died. We urge you to VOTE 
     yes on the Voting Rights Advancement Act, and to support 
     legislation to expand voter registration, safeguard our 
     elections, and restore voting rights for people with past 
     criminal convictions--important steps to ensure that all have 
     a voice in our society.
           Sincerely,

                                                    Marc Egan,

                                 Director of Government Relations,
     National Education Association.
                                  ____

         In Our Own Voice: National Black Women's Reproductive 
           Justice Agenda,
                                                 December 4, 2019.
       Dear Representative: On behalf of In Our Own Voice: 
     National Black Women's Reproductive Justice Agenda, a 
     national/state partnership with eight Black Women's 
     Reproductive Justice organizations (Black Women's Health 
     Imperative, New Voices for Reproductive Justice, SisterLove, 
     Inc., SisterReach, SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW!, Inc., The 
     Afiya Center, and Women With A Vision), lifting up the voices 
     of Black women leaders on local, state, and national policies 
     that impact the lives of Black Women and girls, we write in 
     strong support of H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act. 
     We oppose any Motion to Recommit. We urge you to vote ``yes'' 
     during the anticipated House floor vote.
       At the core of Reproductive Justice is the human right to 
     control our bodies, our sexuality, our gender, our work, and 
     our reproduction. That right can only be achieved when all 
     women and girls (cis, femme, trans, agender, gender non-
     binary and gender nonconforming) have the complete economic, 
     social, and political power and resources to make healthy 
     decisions about our bodies, our families, and our communities 
     in all areas of our lives. This most certainly includes at 
     the polls.
       The U.S. Supreme Court decision in June of 2013 that gutted 
     the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most impactful 
     civil rights laws enacted to date, significantly set back 
     racial equality in voting. Since the Supreme Court decision 
     in Shelby County v. Holder, discrimination has become common 
     place in voting, nationwide, and voter suppression is 
     absolutely rampant throughout the system. We know that such 
     suppression disproportionately impacts communities of color.
       Significant barriers exist for Black communities. In a 
     nationwide poll conducted by In Our Own Voice, National 
     Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, and National Asian 
     Pacific American Women's Forum in Spring of 2019, 33% of 
     women of color voters polled experienced an issue voting. 
     Additionally, countless hearings held by the House Judiciary 
     Committee throughout the year have shown significant barriers 
     to accessing the polls, significantly impeding voter 
     participation.
       H.R. 4 is necessary to restore and modernize the Voting 
     Rights Act to acknowledge the lived experiences of those 
     working to access the polls in all communities. This 
     legislation would strengthen our voting laws to ensure 
     repeated voting rights violations are addressed, increases 
     processes and transparency around voting changes, and goes 
     great lengths to protection individuals from racial 
     discrimination in voting.
       In Our Own Voice's work, particularly through our I Am A 
     Voter project, is to increase Black women's voter engagement 
     in state, local and federal elections, to ensure our stories 
     are told and our voices are represented. H.R. 4 is critical 
     to ensuring that we can express our beliefs and positions 
     through the ballot box. We urge Congress to pass this 
     historic legislation.
           Sincerely,
                                                   Marcela Howell,
     Founder and President/CEO.
                                  ____



                               American Civil Liberties Union,

                                                 December 5, 2019.
     Re Vote YES on H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act.

       Dear Representative: The American Civil Liberties Union 
     (ACLU) urges you to vote ``YES'' on H.R. 4 the Voting Rights 
     Advancement Act of 2019 (VRAA) this morning. The ACLU will 
     score this vote.
       Congress enacted the Voting Rights Act in 1965 (VRA) almost 
     a century after the adoption of the Fifteenth Amendment, 
     which prohibits racial discrimination in voting. The most 
     powerful enforcement tool in the Voting Rights Act was the 
     federal preclearance process, established by Section 5. It 
     required locations with the worst records of voting 
     discrimination to federally ``preclear''--or get federal 
     approval for--voting changes by demonstrating to either the 
     Justice Department or the D.C. federal court that the voting 
     change would not have a discriminatory purpose or effect. 
     What preclearance meant in practice was that states and 
     jurisdictions with documented histories of voting 
     discrimination could not enforce new voting rules without 
     showing that the rules did not discriminate on the basis of 
     race.
       While upholding the Voting Rights Act's preclearance 
     process itself, the Supreme Court's 2013 decision in Shelby 
     County v. Holder effectively nullified preclearance 
     protections contained in the Voting Rights Act by 
     invalidating the coverage formula that identified which 
     locations would be subject to preclearance. Many states have 
     taken the Shelby County decision as a green light to enact 
     discriminatory voting restrictions with impunity. These 
     restrictions include photo ID laws, restraints on voter 
     registration, voter purges, cuts to early voting, 
     restrictions on the casting and counting of absentee and 
     provisional ballots, documentary proof of citizenship 
     requirements, polling place closures and consolidations, and 
     criminalization of acts associated with registration or 
     voting.
       In turn, this rash of discriminatory voting laws has led to 
     an explosion of litigation to protect voters from state and 
     local violations of federal law. Since Shelby County, the 
     ACLU has opened more than 60 new voting rights cases and 
     investigations and currently has more than 30 active matters. 
     Between the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections alone, the 
     ACLU and our affiliates won 15 voting rights victories, 
     protecting more than 5 6 million voters in 12 states that 
     collectively are home to 161 members of the House of 
     Representatives and wield 185 votes in the Electoral College. 
     The ACLU also submitted a 227-page report to the House 
     Judiciary Committee reviewing the legal landscape, evidence 
     of ongoing voting discrimination addressed by the bill, and 
     an analysis of its key provisions. The ACLU report is 
     publicly available here: https://www.aclu.orglreport/aclu-
     report-voting-rights-act.

[[Page H9317]]

       The ACLU's recent litigation experience supports at least 
     two conclusions: our record of success in blocking 
     discriminatory voting changes--with an overall success rate 
     in Voting Rights Act litigation of more than 80 percent--
     reveals that state and local officials are continuing to 
     engage in a widespread pattern of unconstitutional racial 
     discrimination and pervasive violations of federal law. It 
     also shows that there is a lack of tools necessary to stop 
     discriminatory changes to voting laws before they taint an 
     election. Even in the cases in which the ACLU has ultimately 
     succeeded, these discriminatory policies remained in place 
     for months or even years while litigation proceeded--crucial 
     time during which elections were held, and hundreds of 
     government officials elected, under unfair conditions.
       In delivering the Supreme Court's 5-4 majority opinion in 
     Shelby County, Chief Justice John Roberts expressly invited 
     Congress to update the Voting Rights Act's protections based 
     on current conditions of discrimination. It is long past due 
     for Congress to renew the protections of the Voting Rights 
     Act. The price of inaction to protect the voting rights of 
     Americans is high, and history offers a myriad of examples 
     demonstrating its cost to the nation. Congress must act now 
     to cement the legacy of the Voting Rights Act and guard the 
     rights of all Americans. The ACLU urges you to vote ``yes'' 
     on H.R. 4 and reauthorize the Voting Rights Act.
           Sincerely,
     Ronald Newman,
       National Political Director, National Political Advocacy 
     Department.
     Sonia Gill,
       Senior Legislative Counsel, National Political Advocacy 
     Department.
                                  ____



                                       Anti-Defamation League,

                                                    June 26, 2019.
     Hon. Steve Cohen,
     Chairman, House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the 
         Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties.
     Hon. Mike Johnson,
     Ranking Member, House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on 
         the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties.
       Dear Chairman Cohen and Ranking Member Johnson: On behalf 
     of ADL (the Anti-Defamation League), we write to urge the 
     House Judiciary Committee to take prompt action to protect 
     Americans' fundamental right to vote by approving H.R. 4, the 
     Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019 (VRAA). We ask that 
     this statement be included as part of the official hearing 
     record for the subcommittee's June 25, 2019 hearing on 
     ``Continuing Challenges to the Voting Rights Act Since Shelby 
     County.''
       Since the enactment of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) in 1965, 
     a central part of ADL's mission--``to stop the defamation of 
     the Jewish people, and to secure justice and fair treatment 
     to all''--has been devoted to helping to ensure that all 
     Americans have a voice in our democracy. Answering Dr. King's 
     call for ``religious leaders from all over the nation to join 
     us . . . in our peaceful, nonviolent march for freedom,'' ADL 
     lay leaders and staff joined more than 3,000 Americans in 
     ``peaceful demonstration against blind violence, in `gigantic 
     witness' to the constitutionally guaranteed right of all 
     citizens to register and vote in 1965.''
       ADL continues to work today to ensure that all eligible 
     Americans can exercise their fundamental right to vote 
     through advocacy in the courts, legislatures, and 
     communities. We are proud to have stood with leaders such as 
     Dr. King and Rep. John Lewis in 1965 to fight for every 
     citizen's right to vote and we remain equally committed to 
     this goal today. Recognizing the this landmark law as one of 
     the most important and most effective pieces of civil rights 
     legislation ever enacted, ADL has strongly supported the VRA 
     and its extensions since its passage more than 50 years ago, 
     including by filing a brief in Shelby County v Holder.
       In the years and decades following the enactment of the 
     Voting Rights Act of 1965, the law quickly demonstrated its 
     essential value in ensuring rights and opportunities. Between 
     1964 and 1968--the presidential elections immediately before 
     and after passage of the VRA respectively--African American 
     voter turnout in the South jumped by seven percentage points. 
     The year after passage of the VRA, Edward Brooke became the 
     first African American in history elected to the United 
     States Senate by popular vote, and the first African American 
     to serve in the Senate since Reconstruction. By 1970, the 
     number of African Americans elected to public office had 
     increased fivefold. Today there are more than 10,000 African 
     American elected officials at all levels of government.
       To be sure, Section 2 of the VRA, which prohibits 
     discrimination based on race, color, or membership in a 
     language minority group in voting practices and procedures 
     nationwide, has helped to secure many of these advances. Yet 
     it is undeniable that Section 5 of the VRA, which requires 
     certain states and political subdivisions with a history of 
     discriminatory voting practices to provide notice and ``pre-
     clear'' any voting law changes with the federal government, 
     played an essential and invaluable role in the VRA's success. 
     Between 1982 and 2006, pursuant to Section 5, the Department 
     of Justice (DOJ) blocked 700 proposed discriminatory voting 
     laws, the majority of which were based on ``calculated 
     decisions to keep minority voters from fully participating in 
     the political process.'' Proposed laws blocked by Section 5 
     included discriminatory redistricting plans, polling place 
     relocations, biased annexations and de-annexations, and 
     changing offices from elected to appointed positions, similar 
     to many of the tactics used to disenfranchise minority voters 
     before 1965. In addition, states and political subdivisions 
     either altered or withdrew from consideration approximately 
     800 proposed voting changes between 1982 and 2006, indicating 
     that Section 5's impact was much broader than the 700 blocked 
     laws.
       Despite decades of success and extensive documentation of 
     the law's effectiveness in preventing discriminatory 
     restrictions on the right to vote, on June 25, 2013 the U.S 
     Supreme Court, in a sharply divided 5-4 ruling in Shelby 
     County v. Holder, struck down Section 4(b) of the VRA. In 
     doing so, the Court substituted its views for Congress's own 
     very extensive hearings and findings conducted in 2006 when 
     Congress almost unanimously voted to reauthorize the VRA for 
     another 25 years. The ruling invalidated the formula used to 
     determine which states and political subdivisions would be 
     subject to preclearance under Section 5 but did not evaluate 
     the merits of the preclearance provision itself. The majority 
     only held that ``the formula in that section can no longer be 
     used as a basis for subjecting jurisdictions to 
     preclearance.''
       While Shelby County has done irreparable damage to voting 
     rights in the United States, Congress is not powerless to 
     mitigate this damage and restore the original force of the 
     VRA. In fact, the Court specifically noted that ``Congress 
     may draft another formula based on current conditions'' and 
     reinstate the preclearance provision in Section 5. The Voting 
     Rights Advancement Act of 2019 introduces a new, rolling 
     preclearance formula based on current need that would restore 
     the preemptory force of the VRA. The recent onslaught of 
     restrictive voting laws enacted across the country is 
     evidence that litigation pursuant to Section 2 is entirely 
     inadequate to prevent unconstitutional voting practices and 
     discrimination. Since 2010, over 25 states have enacted 
     restrictive voting laws. Half the country now faces stricter 
     voting regulations than they did in 2010.
       Perhaps the most illustrative case for the ongoing 
     necessity of a preclearance process is the battle over a 
     Texas voter ID law. In 2011, Texas passed S.B 14, the 
     strictest voter ID law ever enacted in the United States. 
     Because Texas was required under Section 4 of the VRA to seek 
     preclearance for its voting laws, the law was initially 
     blocked from going into effect. The three-judge panel that 
     reviewed the law found that ``based on the record of evidence 
     before us, it is virtually certain that these burdens will 
     disproportionately affect racial minorities. Simply put, many 
     Hispanics and African Americans who voted in the last 
     election will, because of the burdens imposed by SB 14, 
     likely be unable to vote.''
       Within hours of the Court's decision in Shelby County, 
     Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced that S.B 14 
     would go into effect immediately. Following the Attorney 
     General's announcement, multiple civil rights groups and 
     Texas voters filed suit under Section 2 of the VRA. In 2014, 
     a district court held that ``SB 14 was enacted with a 
     racially discriminatory purpose, has a racially 
     discriminatory effect, is a poll tax, and unconstitutionally 
     burdens the right to vote.'' On appeal, a court of appeals 
     stayed the district court's decision and allowed the law to 
     take effect.
       For more than two years and over the span of two election 
     cycles, SB 14 prevented eligible voters from casting a ballot 
     while litigation was ongoing. By the time the law was finally 
     invalidated in 2016 by a 9-2 vote of the entire Court of 
     Appeals for the D.C Circuit (sitting en bane), no fewer than 
     seven federal judges had concluded the law was 
     discriminatory. Yet because Section 5 of the VRA was not in 
     effect, this patently unconstitutional law was permitted to 
     disenfranchise untold numbers of minority voters, over two 
     election cycles. The consequences of disenfranchisement are 
     not fully quantifiable but are certainly lasting. Elections 
     cannot be undone, and no judicial relief can restore the 
     confidence in our democracy that was unfairly taken from 
     thousands of disenfranchised voters.
       Texas is not the only state to adopt strict voter ID laws. 
     The National Conference of State Legislatures identifies 10 
     states with ``strict'' voter ID laws and finds that 11% of 
     all Americans lack the necessary government ID that these 
     laws require. Voter ID laws have been found on multiple 
     occasions to disproportionately affect marginalized 
     communities, low-income and elderly Americans, and students.
       Nor is Voter ID the only, tool states are using to 
     disenfranchise voters for political gain. In Georgia, then 
     Secretary of State Brian Kemp enforced new election code 
     policies for the 2018 election (in which he was a candidate 
     for Governor) which invalidated a voter's registration if 
     there was any discrepancy in their registration paperwork. Of 
     the 53,000 voters whose registration status was arbitrarily 
     questioned, roughly 70% were African American. In Ohio, a 
     ``use it or lose it'' law caused hundreds of thousands of 
     voters to be purged from the 2018 voter rolls because they 
     did not vote in the last presidential election. 
     Gerrymandering, voter intimidation and harassment, cuts to 
     early

[[Page H9318]]

     voting opportunities, polling place manipulation and closure, 
     and felony disenfranchisement efforts are just some of the 
     other voter suppression tactics that have become prevalent 
     since Shelby County and were used to disenfranchise voters in 
     the 2018 election.
       Indeed, we have seen the reversal of half a century of 
     voting rights advancements since Shelby County. While Section 
     5 of the VRA surely could not have prevented all of these 
     evils, there is no question that this country's democratic 
     institutions would be stronger and our electoral processes 
     more representative if the VRA were in full effect. Following 
     this incredible damage done to the most fundamental of our 
     rights as Americans, Congress now finds itself in the 
     position to act.
       The Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA) of 2019 is an 
     important first step in restoring voter trust in America's 
     elections and preventing states from enacting additional 
     discriminatory measures to suppress the vote. Just over a 
     decade ago, as Congress was debating the most recent 
     reauthorization of the VRA, committees held 21 hearings and 
     compiled over 20,000 pages of records as evidence of the 
     success of Section 5, the prevalence of ongoing voting 
     discrimination, and the constitutionality of the law. As a 
     result, the reauthorization passed with overwhelming 
     bipartisan support: 390 to 33 in the House of Representatives 
     and 98-0 in the Senate. Congress now has both the power and 
     the imperative to pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act and 
     restore the critical voting protections that quite recently 
     received overwhelming bipartisan approval.
       In the face of federal inaction, many states have taken the 
     lead on expanding and securing the right to vote for all 
     people. In 2018, Maryland, New Jersey, and Washington adopted 
     automatic voter registration, a policy which would 
     significantly increase access to the ballot. Since 2016, six 
     states have limited or reversed their felon 
     disenfranchisement laws and 16 states have enacted reforms 
     such as same-day registration, online voter-registration, and 
     expanded early voting opportunities that make it easier to 
     register and vote. Despite the absence of Congressional 
     leadership, there is substantial momentum behind expanding 
     ballot access and preserving America's voting rights.
       S. 1945, the VRAA, creates a modern, flexible, rolling 
     formula to determine which states and political subdivisions 
     will have to pre-clear their laws with the federal 
     government. The formula will not require preclearance in all 
     the political subdivisions that have moved to restrict voting 
     rights in the past six years, including some of the examples 
     above, but, over time, the rolling formula will sweep in many 
     of the most problematic jurisdictions. It will restore 
     critical safeguards, preventing enactment of discriminatory 
     voting laws by once more ``shift[ing] the advantage of 
     inertia and time from the perpetrators of the evil to the 
     victims.''
       The Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution proclaims 
     that ``the right of citizens of the United States to vote 
     shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by 
     any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of 
     servitude.'' Section 2 of the Amendment expressly declares 
     that ``Congress shall have the power to enforce this article 
     by appropriate legislation.'' As the Supreme Court has 
     recognized, ``by adding this authorization, the Framers 
     indicated that Congress was to be chiefly responsible for 
     implementing the rights created in Section 1,'' and 
     ``Congress may use any rational means to effectuate the 
     constitutional prohibition of racial discrimination in 
     voting.'' Passage of the Voting Rights Advancement Act is not 
     only rational. It is critical to enforcing the constitutional 
     prohibition on racial discrimination in voting and protecting 
     the fundamental right to vote for all Americans.
       We strongly welcome these hearings on the devastating 
     legacy of Shelby County and appreciate the opportunity to 
     present ADL's views. We urge the Committee to promptly 
     approve the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019.
           Sincerely,
     Eileen B. Hershenov,
       Senior Vice President, Policy.
     Steven M. Freeman,
       Vice President, Civil Rights.
     Erika L. Moritsugu,
       Vice President, Government Relations, Advocacy, and 
     Community Engagement.
     Melissa Garlick,
       Civil Rights National Counsel.
                                  ____



                                                      AFL-CIO,

                                                 December 5, 2019.
       Dear Representative: On behalf of the AFL-CIO, I am writing 
     to urge you to vote for the Voting Rights Advancement Act 
     (H.R.4). This bill offers a flexible nationwide approach to 
     protecting voters from discriminatory practices, and it is an 
     important step toward restoration of the protections 
     undermined by the Supreme Court's 2013 decision in Shelby 
     County v Holder. We urge you to oppose any motion to 
     recommit.
       The bill would establish a new preclearance coverage 
     formula that is responsive to the discriminatory practices 
     that have proliferated since the Supreme Court's decision in 
     Shelby County v. Holder. As Chief Justice Roberts himself 
     said in the Shelby decision: ``voting discrimination still 
     exists; no one doubts that.'' Discriminatory policies have 
     not only resurfaced in areas formerly covered by the Voting 
     Rights Act's preclearance requirement, but also have 
     proliferated nationwide. State and local officials brazenly 
     have imposed restrictive voting requirements, altered 
     district boundaries, and shifted polling locations in ways 
     that make voting more difficult and less accessible for many 
     voters. The Voting Rights Advancement Act would address these 
     disenfranchisement strategies, as well as others certain to 
     develop.
       The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy, and the 
     effort to protect citizens from voting discrimination has 
     been bipartisan for more than half a century. Indeed, the 
     Voting Rights Act of 1965 would not have passed without 
     leadership from both political parties, and Republican 
     presidents signed each Voting Rights Act reauthorization into 
     law.
       The integrity of our democracy depends on ensuring that 
     every eligible voter can participate in the electoral 
     process, and, thus, voting discrimination demands strong 
     bipartisan legislative action. Every member of Congress 
     should go on record today in support of this historic 
     legislation.
           Sincerely,
                                         William Samuel, Director,
     Government Affairs Department.
                                  ____



                                  Bend the Arc: Jewish Action,

                                                 December 5, 2019.
     Re Vote for the Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4) and 
         against any Motion to Recommit.

       Dear Representative: As the Washington Director of Bend the 
     Arc: Jewish Action, I urge you to vote for the Voting Rights 
     Advancement Act (H.R. 4) and to vote against any Motion to 
     Recommit (MTR), when it comes to a vote this week. This 
     crucial legislation would restore and modernize the Voting 
     Rights Act to combat voter suppression and discrimination 
     across the country. As the largest national Jewish social 
     justice organization focused exclusively on domestic policy, 
     Bend the Arc and our members across the country care deeply 
     about ensuring all people are able to exercise their 
     Constitutional right to shape our democracy through voting.
       The VRAA responds to the urgent need to undo the onslaught 
     of abuses by state and local governments in the aftermath of 
     the Supreme Court's 2013 decision in Shelby County v Holder, 
     gutting the preclearance provision of the Voting Rights Act. 
     Since that decision, 14 states have imposed new voting 
     restrictions that would have likely been deemed unacceptable 
     were the VRA at full strength. These policies have had real 
     consequences, such as likely contributing to significantly 
     lower turnout amongst targeted populations, including people 
     of color, in both the 2016 presidential election and the 2018 
     midterms.
       The fight to protect voting rights is deeply personal for 
     American Jews. There is something quintessentially American, 
     and also quintessentially Jewish, about voting. After all, 
     voting is a ritual, part of belonging to the community. 
     Additionally, the United States was the first federal 
     government to fully enfranchise Jews. For many Jews, our 
     families migrated to the U.S. fleeing persecution, coming 
     here to find a country where, even if they were not always 
     welcome or even fully protected under the law, they 
     nonetheless had a legal right to exist, and be a part of our 
     democratic system at the basic level.
       Today, we draw inspiration not only from that part of the 
     American Jewish experience, but also from the Jewish leaders 
     of the recent past who worked to pass the Voting Rights Act 
     of 1965, and those today who participate in election 
     protection efforts every Election Day. This is why Bend the 
     Arc has helped mobilize the faith community in support of the 
     VRAA and organized National Days of Action for voting rights 
     to mark the 50th anniversary of the murder of Andrew Goodman, 
     James Chaney, and Mickey Schwerner in 1964, and the passing 
     of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
       Again, I urge you to vote for the Voting Rights Advancement 
     Act (H.R. 4) and against any MTR, to ensure that all 
     Americans are able to exercise their Constitutionally-
     protected right to vote.
           Sincerely,

                                   Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block,

                                              Washington Director,
                                      Bend the Arc: Jewish Action.

  Ms. SEWELL of Alabama. Mr. Speaker, I also want to thank the many 
stakeholder groups that have worked so hard on this bill: the 
Leadership Council, the Legal Defense Fund, the NAACP, the Lawyers' 
Committee, the AFL-CIO, MALDEF, and so many more.
  As we prepare to take this vote, let us be guided by our north star, 
that is our wonderful colleague, our beloved colleague,   John Lewis, 
who reminds us each and every day that the price of freedom is not 
free. It has been bought and paid for by the courage of ordinary 
Americans who dared to make this Nation live up to its ideals of 
equality and justice for all.
  Let us recommit ourselves to restoring the promise of voter equality 
and pass H.R. 4 today.

[[Page H9319]]

  

  Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my 
time.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, may I inquire how much time remains on each 
side.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from New York has 14\3/4\ 
minutes remaining. The gentleman from Georgia has 20\1/2\ minutes 
remaining.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1\1/2\ minutes to the gentlewoman 
from Texas (Ms. Jackson Lee).
  Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, as a senior member of the Judiciary 
Committee, having participated in the restoration and reinvigoration of 
the Voting Rights Act in the 2000-2008 period that was bipartisan 
because there was an understanding by President Bush that the denial of 
one's right to vote is a denial of human rights, I stand here today as 
a Member who has joined a number of the congressional hearings. I thank 
Congresswomen Sewell and Fudge and Congressmen Cohen and Nadler for the 
work that has been done, and I encourage my good friend, Mr. Collins, 
to be reminded of the voter suppression in his gubernatorial race that 
resulted in the loss of Stacey Abrams.
  And so I rise today as one who has seen the impact of voting rights, 
particularly in the State of Texas, and argue vigorously for the 
restoration through H.R. 4. It is a fair bill: 25-year period on a 
rolling basis with current conditions, and a 10-year legitimacy for 
those that pass the test.
  President Johnson, during the signing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, 
said the vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for 
breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which 
imprison men and women because they are different from other men and 
women.
  I am a victim of voting rights suppression. I am a redistrict 
district that comes from the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Barbara Jordan 
would not have come to this House had it not been for the right to vote 
for someone that you choose.
  In 1940, only 3 percent of African Americans living in the South were 
registered. Only after Barbara Jordan submitted an amendment did we 
include Hispanics.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentlewoman has expired.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield the gentlewoman from Texas an 
additional 15 seconds.
  Ms. JACKSON LEE. Only in the period of the horrible Shelby vote did 
we have voter suppression with the voter ID law that impacted Hispanics 
in Texas severely, purging language that I helped put in this present 
bill and, of course, moving polling places.
  If we believe in this document called the Constitution, then we 
believe in H.R. 4. We want it restored because it is the right of the 
people to vote.
  Mr. Speaker, as a senior member of the Judiciary Committee and an 
original cosponsor, I rise today in strong support of H.R. 4, the 
Voting Rights Advancement Act, which corrects the damage done in recent 
years to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and commits the national 
government to protecting the right of all Americans to vote free from 
discrimination and without injustices that previously prevented them 
from exercising this most fundamental right of citizenship.
  I thank my colleague, Congresswoman Terri Sewell of Alabama for 
introducing this legislation, to Speaker Pelosi, Chairman Nadler, and 
the Democratic leadership for shepherding this bill to the floor, and 
to many colleagues and countless number of ordinary Americans who never 
stopped agitating and working to protect the precious right to vote.
  Mr. Speaker, in response to the Supreme Court's invitation in Shelby 
County v. Holder, 570 U.S. 193 (2013), H.R. 4 provides a new coverage 
formula based on ``current conditions'' and creates a new coverage 
formula that hinges on a finding of repeated voting rights violations 
in the preceding 25 years.
  It is significant that this 25-year period is measured on a rolling 
basis to keep up with ``current conditions,'' so only states and 
political subdivisions that have a recent record of racial 
discrimination in voting are covered.
  States and political subdivisions that qualify for preclearance will 
be covered for a period of 10 years, but if they have a clean record 
during that time period, they can be extracted from coverage.
  H.R. 4 also establishes ``practice-based preclearance,'' which would 
focus administrative or judicial review narrowly on suspect practices 
that are most likely to be tainted by discriminatory intent or to have 
discriminatory effects, as demonstrated by a broad historical record.
  Under the bill, this process of reviewing changes in voting is 
limited to a set of specific practices, including such things as:
  1. Changes to the methods of elections (to or from at-large 
elections) in areas that are racially, ethnically, or linguistically 
diverse.
  2. Redistricting in areas that are racially, ethnically, or 
linguistically diverse.
  3. Reducing, consolidating, or relocating polling in areas that are 
racially, ethnically, or linguistically diverse; and
  4. Changes in documentation or requirements to vote or to register.
  It is useful, Mr. Speaker, to recount how we arrived at this day.
  Mr. Speaker, fifty-four years ago, in Selma, Alabama, hundreds of 
heroic souls risked their lives for freedom and to secure the right to 
vote for all Americans by their participation in marches for voting 
rights on ``Bloody Sunday,'' ``Turnaround Tuesday,'' or the final, 
completed march from Selma to Montgomery.
  Those ``foot soldiers'' of Selma, brave and determined men and women, 
boys and girls, persons of all races and creeds, loved their country so 
much that they were willing to risk their lives to make it better, to 
bring it even closer to its founding ideals.
  The foot soldiers marched because they believed that all persons have 
dignity and the right to equal treatment under the law, and in the 
making of the laws, which is the fundamental essence of the right to 
vote.
  On that day, Sunday, March 7, 1965, more than 600 civil rights 
``demonstrators, including our beloved colleague, Congressman John 
Lewis of Georgia, were brutally attacked by state and local police at 
the Edmund Pettus Bridge as they marched from Selma to Montgomery in 
support of the right to vote.
  ``Bloody Sunday'' was a defining moment in American history because 
it crystallized for the nation the necessity of enacting a strong and 
effective federal law to protect the right to vote of every American.
  No one who witnessed the violence and brutally suffered by the foot 
soldiers for justice who gathered at the Edmund Pettus Bridge will ever 
I forget it; the images are deeply seared in the American memory and 
experience.
  On August 6, 1965, in the Rotunda of the Capitol and in the presence 
of such luminaries as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rev. 
Ralph Abernathy of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Roy 
Wilkins of the NAACP; Whitney Young of the National Urban League; James 
Foreman of the Congress of Racial Equality; A. Philip Randolph of the 
Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters; John Lewis of the Student Non-
Violent Coordinating Committee; Senators Robert Kennedy, Hubert 
Humphrey, and Everett Dirksen; President Johnson addressed the nation 
before signing the Voting Rights Act:
  ``The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for 
breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which 
imprison men because they are different from other men.''
  The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was critical to preventing brazen voter 
discrimination violations that historically left millions of African 
Americans disenfranchised.
  In 1940, for example, there were less than 30,000 African Americans 
registered to vote in Texas and only about 3 percent of African 
Americans living in the South were registered to vote.
  Poll taxes, literacy tests, and threats of violence were the major 
causes of these racially discriminatory results.
  After passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, which prohibited 
these discriminatory practices, registration and electoral 
participation steadily increased to the point that by 2012, more than 
1.2 million African Americans living in Texas were registered to vote.
  In 1964, the year before the Voting Rights Act became law, there were 
approximately 300 African-Americans in public office, including just 
three in Congress.
  Few, if any, African Americans held elective office anywhere in the 
South.
  Because of the Voting Rights Act, in 2007 there were more than 9,100 
black elected officials, including 46 members of Congress, the largest 
number ever.
  Mr. Speaker, the Voting Rights Act opened the political process for 
many of the approximately 6,000 Hispanic public officials that have 
been elected and appointed nationwide, including more than 275 at the 
state or federal level, 32 of whom serve in Congress.
  Native Americans, Asians and others who have historically encountered 
harsh barriers to full political participation also have benefited 
greatly.
  The crown jewel of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is Section 5, which 
requires that states and localities with a chronic record of 
discrimination in voting practices secure federal approval before 
making any changes to voting processes.
  Section 5 protects minority voting rights where voter discrimination 
has historically been the worst.

[[Page H9320]]

  Between 1982 and 2006, Section 5 stopped more than 1,000 
discriminatory voting changes in their tracks, including 107 
discriminatory changes right here in Texas.
  Passed in 1965 with the extraordinary leadership of President Lyndon 
Johnson, the greatest legislative genius of our lifetime, the Voting 
Rights Act of 1965 was bringing dramatic change in many states across 
the South.
  But in 1972, change was not coming fast enough or in many places in 
Texas.
  In fact, Texas, which had never elected a woman to Congress or an 
African American to the Texas State Senate, was not covered by Section 
5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the language minorities living in 
South Texas were not protected at all.
  But thanks to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the tireless voter 
registration work performed in 1972 by Hillary Clinton in Texas, along 
with hundreds of others, including her future husband Bill, Barbara 
Jordan was elected to Congress, giving meaning to the promise of the 
Voting Rights Act that all citizens would at long last have the right 
to cast a vote for person of their community, from their community, for 
their community.
  Mr. Speaker, it is a source of eternal pride to all of us in Houston 
that in pursuit of extending the full measure of citizenship to all 
Americans, in 1975 Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, who also represented 
this historic 18th Congressional District of Texas, introduced, and the 
Congress adopted, what are now Sections 4(f)(3) and 4(f)(4) of the 
Voting Rights Act, which extended the protections of Section 4(a) and 
Section 5 to language minorities.
  During the floor debate on the 1975 reauthorization of the Voting 
Rights Act, Congresswoman Jordan explained why this reform was needed:
  ``There are Mexican-American people in the State of Texas who have 
been denied the right to vote; who have been impeded in their efforts 
to register and vote; who have not had encouragement from those 
election officials because they are brown people.
  ``So, the state of Texas, if we approve this measure, would be 
brought within the coverage of this Act for the first time.''
  When it comes to extending and protecting the precious right vote, 
the Lone Star State--the home state of Lyndon Johnson and Barbara 
Jordan--can be the leading state in the Union, one that sets the 
example for the Nation.
  But to realize that future, we must turn from and not return to the 
dark days of the past.
  We must remain ever vigilant and oppose all schemes that will abridge 
or dilute the precious right to vote.
  Madam Speaker, I am here today to remind the nation that need to 
passthis legislation is urgent because the right to vote--that 
``powerful--instrument that can break down the walls of injustice''--
faces grave threats.
  The threat stems from the decision issued in June 2013 by the Supreme 
Court in Shelby County v. Holder, 570 U.S. 193 (2013), which 
invalidated Section 4(b) of the VRA, and paralyzed the application of 
the VRA's Section 5 preclearance requirements.
  According to the Supreme Court majority, the reason for striking down 
Section 4(b) was that ``times change.''
  Now, the Court was right; times have changed.
  But what the Court did not fully appreciate is that the positive 
changes it cited are due almost entirely to the existence and vigorous 
enforcement of the Voting Rights Act.
  And that is why the Voting Rights Act is still needed and that is why 
we must pass H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act.
  Let me put it this way: in the same way that the vaccine invented by 
Dr. Jonas Salk in 1953 eradicated the crippling effects but did not 
eliminate the cause of polio, the Voting Rights Act succeeded in 
stymieing the practices that resulted in the wholesale 
disenfranchisement of African Americans and language minorities but did 
eliminate them entirely.
  The Voting Rights Act is needed as much today to prevent another 
epidemic of voting disenfranchisement as Dr. Salk's vaccine is still 
needed to prevent another polio epidemic.
  As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stated in Shelby County v. Holder, 
``[t]hrowing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to 
work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella 
in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.''
  However, officials in some states, notably Texas and North Carolina, 
seemed to regard the Shelby decision as a green light and rushed to 
implement election laws, policies, and practices that could never pass 
muster under the Section 5 preclearance regime.
  My constituents remember very well the Voter ID law passed in Texas 
in 2011, which required every registered voter to present a valid 
government-issued photo ID on the day of polling in order to vote.
  The Justice Department blocked the law in March of 2012, and it was 
Section 5 that prohibited it from going into effect.
  At least it did until the Shelby decision, because on the very same 
day that Shelby was decided officials in Texas announced they would 
immediately implement the Photo ID law, and other election laws, 
policies, and practices that could never pass muster under the Section 
5 preclearance regime.
  The Texas Photo ID law was challenged in federal court and the U.S. 
Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld the decision of U.S. 
District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos that Texas' strict voter 
identification law discriminated against blacks and Hispanics and 
violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
  Mr. Speaker, protecting voting rights and combating voter suppression 
schemes are two of the critical challenges facing our great democracy.
  Without safeguards to ensure that all citizens have equal access to 
the polls, more injustices are likely to occur and the voices of 
millions silenced.
  I believe that Texas, the Lone Star State, can be the leading state 
in the Union.
  But to realize that future, we cannot return to the dark days of its 
past and must remain ever vigilant and oppose schemes that will abridge 
or dilute the precious right to vote.
  That means standing up to and calling out groups and organizations 
like ``True the Vote'' and its local Houston-based affiliate, the 
``King Street Patriots,'' which in recent years have under the guise of 
poll watchers, improperly interacted with persons at polling stations 
in Hispanic and African American communities in an attempt to 
intimidate them from voting.
  The behavior of this group was so outrageous in 2010 that I reported 
its conduct to the Attorney General and requested the Department of 
Justice to investigate. (See Attachment, Letter from Congresswoman 
Jackson Lee to U.S. Attorney General Holder (October 28, 2010)).
  Mr. Speaker, in many ways Texas is ground-zero for testing and 
perfecting schemes to deprive communities of color and language 
minorities of the right to vote and to have their votes counted.
  Consider what has transpired in Texas in recent past.
  Only 68 percent of eligible voters are registered in Texas and state 
restrictions on third party registration, such as the Volunteer Deputy 
Registrar program, exacerbate the systemic disenfranchisement of 
minority communities.
  These types of programs are often aimed at minority and underserved 
communities that, for many, many other reasons (like demonization by 
the president, for example) or mistrust of law enforcement are afraid 
to live as openly as they should.
  In Harris County, we had a system where voters were getting purged 
from the rolls, effectively requiring people to keep active their 
registrations and hundreds of polling locations closed in Texas, 
significantly more in number and percentage than any other state.
  In addition, the Texas Election Code only requires a 72-hour notice 
of polling location changes.
  Next, take what happened here in Texas earlier this year when the 
Texas Secretary of State claimed that his office had identified 95,000 
possible noncitizens on the voter rolls and gave the list to the Texas 
State Attorney General for possible prosecution--leading to a claim 
from President Trump about widespread voter fraud and outrage from 
Democrats and activist groups.
  The only problem was that list was not accurate.
  At least 20,000 names turned out to be there by mistake, leading to 
chaos, confusion, and concern that people's eligibility vote was being 
questioned based on flawed data.
  The list was made through state records going back to 1996 that show 
which Texas residents were not citizens when they got a driver's 
license or other state ID.
  But many of the person who may have had green cards or work visas at 
the time they got a Texas ID are on the secretary of state's office's 
list, and many have become citizens since then since nearly 50,000 
people become naturalized U.S. citizens in Texas annually.
  Latinos made up a big portion of the 95,000-person list.
  Texas Republicans adopted racial and partisan gerrymandered 
congressional, State legislative redistricting plans that federal 
courts have ruled violate the Voting Rights Act and were drawn with 
discriminatory intent.
  Even after changes were demanded by the courts, much of the damage 
done was already done.
  Reversing the position by the Obama administration, the U.S. 
Department of Justice has told a federal court that it no longer 
believes past discrimination by Texas officials should require the 
state to get outside approval for redistricting maps that will be drawn 
in 2021.
  In addition to affirmative ways to making it harder to vote, we also 
know face other odious impediments in Texas.
  Those of us who cherish the right to vote justifiably are skeptical 
of Voter ID laws because we understand how these laws, like poll

[[Page H9321]]

taxes and literacy tests, can be used to impede or negate the ability 
of seniors, racial and language minorities, and young people to cast 
their votes.
  This is the harm that can be done without preclearance, so on a 
federal level, there is an impetus to act.
  Those of us who cherish the right to vote justifiably are skeptical 
of Voter ID laws because we understand how these laws, like poll taxes 
and literacy tests, can be used to impede or negate the ability of 
seniors, racial and language minorities, and young people to cast their 
votes.
  Consider the demographic groups who lack a government issued ID:
  1. African Americans: 25 percent.
  2. Asian Americans: 20 percent.
  3. Hispanic Americans: 19 percent.
  4. Young people, aged 18-24: 18 percent.
  5. Persons with incomes less than $35,000: 15 percent.
  And there are other ways abridging or suppressing the right to vote, 
including:
  1. Curtailing or eliminating early voting
  2. Ending same-day registration
  3. Not counting provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct on 
Election Day will not count.
  4. Eliminating adolescent pre-registration
  5. Shortening poll hours.
  6. Lessening the standards governing voter challenges thus allowing 
self-proclaimed ``ballot security vigilantes'' like the King Street 
Patriots to cause trouble at the polls.
  The malevolent practice of voter purging is not limited to Texas; we 
saw it just last year in Georgia, where then Secretary of State and now 
Governor Brian Kemp purged more than 53,000 persons from the voter, 
nearly the exact margin of his narrow win over his opponent, Stacy 
Abrams in the 2018 gubernatorial election.
  Voter purging is a sinister and malevolent practice visited on 
voters, who are disproportionately members of communities of color, by 
state and local election officials.
  This practice, which would have not passed muster under section 5 of 
the Voting Rights Act, has proliferated in the years since the Supreme 
Court neutralized the preclearance provision, or as Justice Ginsburg 
observed in Shelby County v. Holder, ``threw out the umbrella'' of 
protection.
  Mr. Speaker, citizens in my congressional district and elsewhere know 
and have experienced the pain and heartbreak of receiving a letter from 
state or local election officials that they have been removed from the 
election rolls, or worse, learn this fact on Election Day.
  That is why I worked so hard to secure language in the Manager's 
Amendment to H.R. 4 that strengthens the bill's ``practice-based 
preclearance'' provisions by adding specifically to the preclearance 
provision, voting practices that add a new basis or process for 
removing a name from the list of active registered voters and the 
practice of reducing the days or hours of in-person voting on Sundays 
during an early voting period.
  Mr. Speaker, it is the responsibility and sacred duty of all members 
of Congress who revere democracy to preserve, protect, and expand the 
precious right to vote of all Americans by passing H.R. 4, the Voting 
Rights Advancement Act.
  Before concluding there is one other point I would like to stress.
  In his address to the nation before signing the Voting Rights Act of 
1965, President Johnson said:
  ``Presidents and Congresses, laws and lawsuits can open the doors to 
the polling places and open the doors to the wondrous rewards which 
await the wise use of the ballot.
  ``But only the individual Negro, and all others who have been denied 
the right to vote, can really walk through those doors, and can use 
that right, and can transform the vote into an instrument of justice 
and fulfillment.''
  In other words, political power--and the justice, opportunity, 
inclusion, and fulfillment it provides--comes not from the right to 
vote but in the exercise of that right.
  And that means it is the civic obligation of every citizen to both 
register and vote in every election, state and local as well as 
federal.
  Because if we can register and vote, but fail to do so, we are guilty 
of voluntary voter suppression, the most effective method of 
disenfranchisement ever devised.
  And in recent years, Americans have not been doing a very good job of 
exercising our civic responsibility to register, vote, and make their 
voices heard.
  Mr. Speaker, for millions of Americans, the right to vote protected 
by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is sacred treasure, earned by the 
sweat and toil and tears and blood of ordinary Americans who showed the 
world it was possible to accomplish extraordinary things.
  So today, let us rededicate ourselves to honoring those who won for 
us this precious right by remaining vigilant and fighting against both 
the efforts of others to abridge or suppress the right to vote and our 
own apathy in exercising this sacred right.
  Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I 
may consume.
  A final statement of something I am about to submit for the Record, 
it is a Statement of Administration Policy. It says this: ``In sum, 
several provisions of H.R. 4 violate principles of federalism and 
exceed the powers granted to Congress by the Constitution, and these 
provisions would likely be found unlawful if challenged. Accordingly, 
the administration opposes H.R. 4.''
  Mr. Speaker, I include in the Record this Statement of Administration 
Policy.

                   Statement of Administration Policy


             H.R. 4--Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019

                (Rep. Sewell, D-AL, and 229 cosponsors)

       The Administration opposes passage of H.R. 4, the Voting 
     Rights Advancement Act of 2019. H.R. 4 would amend the Voting 
     Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 by imposing a new coverage formula 
     and transparency obligations on States and local 
     jurisdictions regarding their elections. These amendments 
     raise serious policy concerns because the Federal Government 
     would be granted excessive control over State and local 
     election practices. Additionally, the Supreme Court has 
     already held similar restrictions imposed by Congress on 
     States and localities to be unconstitutional.
       No individual should be denied or deterred from exercising 
     his or her right to vote. Federal law protects against voting 
     discrimination, allows judicial review of State and local 
     voting laws, and establishes preclearance requirements. H.R. 
     4 would overreach by giving the Federal Government too much 
     authority over an even greater number of voting practices and 
     decisions made by States and local governments without 
     justifying the current needs for such policies.
       Section 3 of H.R. 4 would amend the VRA by setting forth a 
     new coverage formula that subjects certain States and local 
     subdivisions to Federal preclearance requirements before 
     undertaking certain election activities. For example, the 
     coverage formula would place restrictions on States with ``15 
     or more voting rights violations [that] occurred in . . . the 
     previous 25 calendar years.'' Once a State or locality is 
     covered by the formula, it would need permission from the 
     Attorney General or Federal courts before conducting certain 
     election activities prescribed by the bill.
       In striking down the VRA's prior coverage formula, the 
     Supreme Court held that although ``[o]ur country has changed, 
     and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, 
     Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy 
     that problem speaks to current conditions.'' Shelby County v. 
     Holder, 570 U.S. 529, 557 (2013). Accordingly, the coverage 
     formula set forth in section 3 of H.R. 4 that ``imposes 
     substantial federalism costs'' on States must therefore be 
     tailored to ``current needs.'' Id. at 540, 553 (internal 
     quotation marks omitted). Instead, section 3 continues to 
     permit reliance on potentially decades-old data--incidents 
     dating as far back as 25 years--as a justification for 
     imposing a preclearance requirement.
       Additionally, section 4 of H.R. 4 would create a new 
     ``Practice-Based Preclearance'' standard, which would 
     automatically subject certain election laws to Federal 
     preclearance, thereby raising significant policy concerns. 
     This section would, among other things, prejudice Federal law 
     against State and local voter integrity efforts, such as 
     voter ID laws, and even impose requirements on routine 
     administrative actions that include changing voting 
     locations.
       Finally, H.R. 4 would amend the VRA by imposing additional 
     transparency requirements regarding certain election 
     activities in Federal, State, and local jurisdictions. 
     Section 5 of H.R. 4 raises constitutional concerns because 
     its broad language would interfere with State and local 
     elections beyond the powers afforded by the Elections Clause. 
     Specifically, section 5 would require notice of demographic 
     information related to ``any change in the constituency that 
     will participate in an election for Federal, State, or local 
     office.'' This broad language would impose notice 
     requirements on States that make redistricting changes 
     despite no Federal election involvement. By doing so, H.R. 4 
     would impermissibly grant Congress authority beyond what is 
     authorized by the Elections Clause, and therefore section 5 
     would likely be found unconstitutional.
       In sum, several provisions of H.R. 4 violate principles of 
     federalism and exceed the powers granted to Congress by the 
     Constitution, and these provisions would likely be found 
     unlawful if challenged. Accordingly, the Administration 
     opposes H.R. 4.
       If H.R. 4 were presented to the President, his advisors 
     would recommend that he veto it.
  Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my 
time.

                              {time}  1100

  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentlewoman from 
Washington (Ms. Jayapal).
  Ms. JAYAPAL. Mr. Chairman, I am so proud today to stand here to 
support H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement

[[Page H9322]]

Act. And I want to congratulate my incredible colleague Congresswoman 
Sewell for her leadership.
  When Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, it was a 
recognition that systemic discrimination based on race continued to 
deny people the right to vote. And as an organizer, I understand the 
Voting Rights Act as a victory that was hard fought by Black activists 
like Fannie Lou Hamer and Ella Baker and, of course, our esteemed 
colleague Representative Lewis, who devoted their lives to fighting for 
the right to vote. And it was a victory of the movement that recognized 
that this right to vote is absolutely fundamental to our concept and 
our actualization of democracy.
  Unfortunately, we have not followed with the same courage. Instead, 
since 2013, States have enacted laws that have suppressed voting rights 
across the country, and today, half of the country faces stricter 
voting regulations than they did 9 years ago.
  If we want a true democracy, Mr. Speaker, we must protect the right 
to vote for all, and this bill is critical to doing that.
  Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my 
time.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from 
Maryland (Mr. Hoyer), the distinguished majority leader.
  (Mr. HOYER asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 
remarks.)
  Mr. HOYER. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman of the Judiciary 
Committee for yielding me time, and I thank him for his leadership. 
And, of course, I thank Terri Sewell, who is from Selma, Alabama, who 
has been a fighter for voting rights all of her life. I thank her for 
sponsoring this bill along with myself and so many others.
  It was in Selma in 1965 that another friend and one of our dearest 
colleagues,   John Lewis, was nearly beaten to death for having the 
audacity to demand the right to vote, the right to register, the right 
to participate in a meaningful way in our democracy. That year, after 
that Bloody Sunday in March of 1965 and the later march to Montgomery 
that followed soon after, Congress enacted the Voting Rights Act to 
protect against voter suppression and voter disenfranchisement.
  One of its core provisions required that the Federal Justice 
Department preclear any changes to voting rules in jurisdictions that 
have a history of discrimination and voter suppression. Let me, as an 
aside say, that these elections are Federal elections, so very frankly, 
my constituents have an interest in making sure that constituents of 
every other district have an opportunity to have their voice heard.
  This is not a State's rights issue, as the administration puts forth. 
This is an issue of America's values as a democracy, which is that all 
Americans--and that was not always the case, we had to amend the 
Constitution of the United States in order to effect that end--that all 
Americans have the right and ought to be facilitated in exercising that 
right to vote.
  Sadly, we know that, notwithstanding the 13th, 14th, and 15th 
Amendments, State after State, jurisdiction after jurisdiction, not 
solely in the south, adopted policies aimed at preventing the exercise 
of the franchise, of preventing the ability to register to vote and to 
neuter the vote being cast by redistricting efforts that in effect put 
people in a place where they could not elect the person of their 
choice.
  As a result, millions of Americans after the Voting Rights Act was 
adopted were finally able to vote and have their voices heard in their 
democracy. However, we ought to be chastened as we consider this 
legislation in knowing that for 100 years after the 13th, 14th, and 
15th Amendments were adopted, for 100 years, for a century, it was 
still necessary for the   John Lewises and the Martin Luther Kings to 
march. Some gave their lives to redeem that promise that so many gave 
their lives to ensure.
  Unfortunately, the Supreme Court struck down the formula for that 
preclearance process in 2013 and charged Congress with updating it. We 
have responded this day to that charge. Under the previous Republican-
led Congress, that charge was ignored.
  Again, I would ask my colleagues on the Republican side of the aisle 
to think of their failure to act. Ronald Reagan said to Gorbachev, 
``Tear down this wall.''
  Today, we have an opportunity to tear down the wall of discrimination 
and exclusion to millions of Americans who have been confronted with 
policies that make it more difficult for them to vote.
  I hope the Senate will join us in tearing down this wall of 
discrimination, oppression, and exclusion. I continue to believe that 
the decision made by the Supreme Court was a bad decision, which did 
not reflect the reality of the success of the preclearance provisions 
in the Voting Rights Act.
  Indeed, Justice Ginsburg pointed out in her dissent that, ``Throwing 
out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop 
discriminatory changes is like throwing out your umbrella in a 
rainstorm because you are not getting wet.''
  Today, the Democratic-led House will vote to restore the full force 
of the Voting Rights Act. And I hope every Republican will join us if 
they want to ensure that discriminatory practices do not prevent 
citizens from voting.
  We have given this bill the designation of H.R. 4. I said in a press 
conference a little time ago, H.R. 4, H.R. for the people. Whether you 
spell it F-O-R or F-O-U-R, this is for the people, for our democracy, 
for justice, for inclusion. We have given this bill the designation of 
H.R. 4, appropriately, because it is one of our most important pieces 
of legislation. Along with H.R. 1, the For the People Act, which 
contained a number of provisions strengthening ballot access, making 
voter registration automatic, and expanding early voting, H.R. 4 is 
part of the Democrats' effort to protect Americans' fundamental right 
to vote.

  H.R. 4, my colleagues, restores the full protections of the Voting 
Rights Act. As you take your card and contemplate putting it in the 
slot and pushing either the green button or the red button, reflect 
upon those who died, not only in the civil rights movement, but those 
who died on foreign shores defending freedom and democracy. Because as 
you vote today, you will be voting to defend or to ignore the 
fundamental formula for democracy, which is having people's votes 
count.
  By updating the preclearance formula requiring reasonable public 
notice before changes to voting laws or regulations; permitting the 
Attorney General to request the presence of election observers anywhere 
there is a threat of racial discrimination at the ballot box--these are 
not just State elections, I tell my friends; these are elections, which 
impact my constituents in your State and every other State, when they 
elect Members of Congress, in the United States Senate--and increasing 
accessibility and protections for Native Americans and Alaska-native 
voters.
  Again, I want to thank Representative Sewell for her leadership in 
this effort and   John Lewis and so many other heroes; my friend  Jim 
Clyburn, the Democrat whip, who fought for voting rights; for all those 
of African American descent who fought for voting rights; for Native 
Americans, the first two women of whom we have in the Congress now.
  I thank Chairman Nadler for working closely with Terri Sewell and 
others to strengthen this legislation by including language to ensure 
that jurisdictions that purge voter rolls or reduce early voting 
opportunities are subject to preclearance requirements.
  It is very nice to say, Well, you can file a suit after the election 
is over. You may not have the money to do that, and, in any event, it 
is a fait accompli. It is too late. That is why preclearance has been 
honored for half a century, and that is why it is so sad that the 
Supreme Court set it aside.
  And, of course, I want to thank, one more time, my dear friend, John 
Lewis, who throughout his lifetime has held up the beloved community. 
Voting rights is part of that beloved community. In Selma 54 years ago, 
John risked his future, his life and his limb, so every American could 
cast a vote.
  Today 434 of us ought to join   John Lewis, not walking across the 
bridge with Alabama troopers waiting to beat us and confront us, but to 
that little box where we have the right to vote. Nobody can stop us 
from voting in that box today. Let's make sure that nobody stops any of 
our fellow Americans

[[Page H9323]]

from putting their card in that voting slot and making democracy all 
that our Founders promised it to be.
  Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my 
time.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from New 
York (Mr. Jeffries).
  Mr. JEFFRIES. Mr. Speaker, the right to vote is precious and central 
to the integrity of our democracy. It is not a Democratic issue or a 
Republican issue. It is an American issue.
  The Republican party used to support the unfettered right to vote. In 
fact, every single time the Voting Rights Act has been reauthorized, it 
was signed by a Republican President: 1970, Richard Nixon; 1975, Gerald 
Ford; 1982, Ronald Reagan; 2006, George W. Bush. The unfettered right 
to vote should be a bipartisan issue, but the party of Lincoln is gone. 
The party of Reagan is gone. The party of McCain is gone. Voter 
suppression is not a legitimate electoral tactic. It is a stain on our 
democracy, and it must be crushed.
  Vote ``yes'' on H.R. 4.
  Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I 
may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I would just like to remind those of us voting, we can 
like this bill or not like this bill, but this is not a reauthorization 
of the Voting Rights Act. This is in addition to, and it is something 
we have talked about on our side.
  We appreciate the debate going on, but just as a clarification, we 
are not reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act. The sections that are 
already there are still going to be there, they are permanently 
enshrined, and we are not going to be changing that. This is a 
different part of that, and we would just like to make that clear.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

                              {time}  1115

  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, may I inquire how much time remains on each 
side.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from New York (Mr. Nadler) has 
10 minutes remaining. The gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Collins) has 20 
minutes remaining.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I would simply comment that this is a 
restoration of the previously authorized Voting Rights Act before the 
Supreme Court did its dastardly deed.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Louisiana (Mr. 
Richmond).
  Mr. RICHMOND. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman for yielding.
  Let me just pick up where they left off. Whether it is a 
reauthorization, whether it is a restoration, it does not matter. What 
this is, is fixing the stain on America that prohibited and stopped 
African Americans and other minorities from voting.
  I rise today torn because, on the one hand, I am elated that this 
House is finally moving H.R. 4 so that we can protect the right to 
vote, but on the other hand, I am disappointed because we have to do it 
by ourselves, that this is not a bipartisan effort to ensure the 
precious right to vote.
  Many people may say that it is a burden on the States. What about the 
burden that the States put on us?
  In the spirit of Goodman, Chaney, and Schwerner, who were killed so 
that I could vote, and   John Lewis and others who crossed the Edmund 
Pettus Bridge, who were beaten so that I can vote, Mr. Speaker, I rise 
today to ask for everyone to support H.R. 4. We should join hands and 
do it together.
  Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my 
time.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentlewoman from 
Texas (Ms. Garcia).
  Ms. GARCIA of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I thank Chairman Nadler for 
yielding.
  I support this bill and its efforts to protect access to the ballot 
box and advance justice and democracy for all, including Latinos, which 
represent 77 percent of my district.
  Enfranchising minority voters will strengthen our democracy because 
when all eligible voters can exercise their right, our government works 
better by living up to its ideals of ``we the people.''
  This bill aims to maintain elections free, fair, and accessible to 
all eligible voters.
  Congress must pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act to restore our 
ability to prevent voter discrimination. We are all equal at the ballot 
box, and this bill aims to make sure that that is a reality today, 
tomorrow, and every day.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to join me in support of H.R. 4.
  Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my 
time.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentlewoman from 
Georgia (Mrs. McBath).
  Mrs. McBATH. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman for yielding.
  I rise in support of H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act, led 
by our esteemed colleague, Representative Sewell.
  During the civil rights movement, I was the child in the stroller at 
the March on Washington. My father served as the Illinois branch 
president of the NAACP for over 25 years, and I was raised to always 
fight for what is right and just, to stand up for those who do not 
always have a voice.
  My father planned marches to strengthen our voting rights. I can 
still picture him presiding over meetings at our kitchen table, our 
house filled with poster boards and preparations and hope.
  When it comes to voting rights, my father's work is still unfinished. 
Today, I am so proud that we are taking this step toward completing 
that work.
  Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me in supporting the Voting 
Rights Advancement Act.
  Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I have made my statements very 
clear on this, and I will continue to do so. For people who have really 
struggled with and want to be a part of this, I am also going to say 
that this is a time when we can reach out occasionally across the 
aisle, and I can help my chairman with a little bit of time.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from South Carolina 
(Mr. Clyburn).
  Mr. CLYBURN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. 
Collins) for yielding me the time.
  I have been thinking a lot this morning about my growing up in South 
Carolina. I still remember as a young man driving in a driving rain 
from Charleston, South Carolina, going up to the little town of 
Kingstree in Williamsburg County, which I now represent here in this 
body.
  On that day, Martin Luther King, Jr., was coming to Williamsburg 
County to extol the necessity of voting to all of us. I will never 
forget his theme that day, ``march to the ballot box.''
  It was just a few months after the 1965 Voting Rights Act had been 
passed into law, and that law has been renewed time and time again 
throughout the years. But several years ago, the Supreme Court took a 
look at the law and decided that the formula that had been used in 
section 4 should be updated.
  This bill, thanks to the work of Terri Sewell from Alabama and Marcia 
Fudge from Ohio, we have had 17 hearings around the country, eight by 
the Judiciary Committee--I thank Chairman Nadler so much for that--and 
nine by Marcia Fudge's committee. We have wrapped all of those findings 
into one bill because we are adhering to what Chief Justice Roberts 
asked us to do: update the formula.
  We have updated the formula. We are putting it on the floor today, 
and I do believe that this piece of legislation is deserving of 
bipartisan support.
  I can remember when this voting rights bill would pass both houses 
unanimously. Let's do that today and demonstrate that we are making 
this democracy work for all.

  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentlewoman from New 
York (Mrs. Carolyn B. Maloney).
  Mrs. CAROLYN B. MALONEY of New York. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong 
support of H.R. 4 for the people, the Voting Rights Advancement Act. I 
thank my colleagues, Representatives Sewell, Fudge, Nadler, and many 
others, for their extraordinary work on this critical legislation that 
protects the most basic and fundamental of American rights, the right 
to vote.
  Ever since the 2013 Supreme Court Shelby decision threw out the 
preclearance requirement, undermining the Voting Rights Act, States and 
localities with histories of racial injustice have again started 
discriminatory voting practices, like requiring IDs, which is 
particularly harmful to

[[Page H9324]]

Hispanic voters; moving voting places so it is more difficult to vote; 
and many other steps that disenfranchise countless Americans, 
particularly men and women of color.
  This bill restores the Voting Rights Act in its entirety, repeals the 
Shelby decision, and gives the Federal Government the tools to hold 
local election officials accountable for discriminatory practices that 
deny Americans of this fundamental right.
  So many brave Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect 
this right for our people. By passing this legislation, we honor their 
sacrifice by protecting the right to vote for every single citizen.
  Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my 
time.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Texas 
(Mr. Castro).
  Mr. CASTRO of Texas. Mr. Speaker, the right to vote in our Nation is 
fundamental to our democracy, and that right to vote continues to come 
under assault.
  States with a history of denying and blocking the right to vote, like 
my home State of Texas, are no longer held in check by the preclearance 
requirement of the Voting Rights Act. Worried that changing 
demographics erode their political power, Texas leaders continue to 
make voting more difficult for Latinos and other communities of color.
  For example, since the Shelby case, the Texas secretary of state 
attempted to purge nearly 100,000 foreign-born U.S. citizens from voter 
rolls; the Texas Legislature restricted mobile voting sites designed to 
make voting more convenient; at least 750 polling locations have been 
closed, more than any other State; a voter ID law went into effect that 
a Federal judge later ruled was enacted to intentionally discriminate 
against Black and Latino voters.
  Mr. Speaker, this legislation is important to protect every 
American's right to vote, and I urge my colleagues to support it.
  Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my 
time.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentlewoman from 
Wisconsin (Ms. Moore).
  Ms. MOORE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from New York (Mr. 
Nadler) for yielding.
  The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was a direct response to evidence of 
significant and pervasive racial discrimination across the country.
  My home State of Wisconsin really has suffered under the Supreme 
Court decision of 2013. After that ruling, then-Governor Scott Walker, 
someone I had been fighting since 1990 to prevent him from enacting an 
onerous voter ID law, he prevailed in 2016.
  The very first year that that voter ID law was enacted was in 2016. 
According to a study done by the University of Wisconsin, between 
12,000 and 23,000 registered voters in Madison and Milwaukee, and as 
many as 45,000 statewide, were deterred from voting by the ID law. The 
President, of course, won our State by a mere 23,000 votes.
  Mr. Speaker, it is important and imperative that we restore 
enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. I urge my colleagues to vote for 
this great legislation.
  Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my 
time.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentlewoman from 
California (Ms. Lee).
  Ms. LEE of California. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman for yielding 
and bringing H.R. 4 to this floor.
  I would like to thank Congresswoman Terri Sewell for her very 
consistent efforts to restore the vote and also our Chairwoman Marcia 
Fudge of the Subcommittee on Elections for holding hearings throughout 
the country, which actually established the foundation for this bill.
  The 1965 Voting Rights Act repaired damage in our communities whose 
voting rights were denied. Dr. Martin Luther King once said he saw that 
as a great step forward.
  However, in 2013, the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 
the Shelby v. Holder decision. As a result, the Nation saw nearly 20 
percent fewer polling locations and 17 million voters purged from 
voting rolls in States with patterns of voter suppression. This is 
especially true for communities of color, whose votes have been 
silenced over the years due to this disastrous Court decision.
  Voting is the backbone of our democracy and something that every 
American should have the right to access.
  I was born and raised in El Paso, Texas, and I vividly remember the 
denial of full citizenship of African Americans.
  Mr. Speaker, we need a system that is strong, free, and fair. I urge 
my colleagues to move forward in a bipartisan way and pass H.R. 4.
  Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my 
time.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentlewoman from 
Michigan (Mrs. Lawrence).
  Mrs. LAWRENCE. Mr. Speaker, I stand today as the chair of the Women's 
Caucus and as a member of the executive board of the Congressional 
Black Caucus, and I stand in strong support of H.R. 4, the Voting 
Rights Advancement Act.
  These repeated attacks on our right to vote have severely undermined 
the people's fundamental voting rights, which are the principles of our 
democracy.
  H.R. 4 helps protect citizens' ability to register to vote and 
provides real enforcement so that marginalized communities, like women 
who celebrate their 100th year to vote and African American 
communities, will have proper access to the ballot box.
  The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, and we must 
ensure that every eligible American voter has the ability to have their 
vote heard.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to vote ``yes.''

                              {time}  1130

  Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my 
time.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, may I inquire how much time each side has 
left.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from New York has 2 minutes 
remaining.
  The gentleman from Georgia has 18 minutes remaining.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the distinguished 
gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Frankel).
  Ms. FRANKEL. Mr. Speaker, voting is the cornerstone of our democracy. 
It has been a hard-fought right. We must ensure that every American 
that is eligible to vote can make their voice heard.
  This right has been trampled on after the Shelby County v. Holder 
Court decision, which has unleashed a flood of State and local voter 
suppression laws, silencing targeted voters, particularly communities 
of color.
  In my home State of Florida, laws and policies have cut back early 
voting, established English-only ballots, and are now trying to thwart 
efforts to restore voting rights to ex-felons, hurting access to the 
ballot box for Floridians.
  H.R. 4 will push back against suppressive voting laws, restoring the 
great equalizer for democracy and for our people.
  Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I continue to reserve the 
balance of my time.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, we have only one remaining speaker, who will 
be our closing speaker, so the gentleman from Georgia may wish to close 
for his side.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I 
may consume to close.
  Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity at the time we have laid 
this out. There have been exhaustive hearings on this.
  Our objection to this is not about anything else except that we feel 
the wording of this and the way this bill is laid out is not good for 
our country, much of it will not be held up and will not have its 
intended consequences.
  I am one who believes and has a State that has been very active in 
seeing our minority rolls and our minority voting participation 
increase dramatically over the last 4 or 5 years, after, even, the 
Shelby decision.
  That is an undisputed fact; although, many times, it has been 
disputed in many public speeches saying Georgia is going backwards. We 
are not. Georgia is going forward and had many, many successes over the 
last little bit encouraging minority voting. From my perspective, that 
is exactly what we are supposed to be doing.

[[Page H9325]]

  So, simply, as we have looked at it, we must move forward with ways 
that we make sure every person who wants to vote has the ability to 
vote and does so in a proper and legal way. That has never been a 
discussion from our side. My only objection here is the way this goes 
about it.
  And there have been many other issues that we have brought up on 
numerous, numerous occasions about how this could actually have adverse 
effects across the country, especially if people wanted to really mess 
with our voting system and play it for political gain. That is not a 
discussion that we are having right here because we have had this in 
multiple hearings up to this point.
  So I think, for the voter who looks today, this is something that is 
going forward with a good-hearted attempt. I will never question the 
motivations of what is happening here. I just question the very fact of 
what words are on paper.
  We do not, in this body, vote on ideas. We do not vote on thoughts. 
We vote on words on paper. And the words on paper here do not fulfill 
what is being said about this bill.
  With that said, I would ask that we vote ``no.'' There are plenty of 
opportunities for us to continue to work on this, just not in this 
current situation. I respectfully request that people would vote ``no'' 
and that we move forward with something that actually possibly could 
work at a future date.
  But from the majority side, this has nothing to do with people voting 
or not voting. We want everyone to vote and everyone to participate, 
but we want to do so in a fair and legal way.
  This is something that we actually think would actually hurt that in 
the long run as we go forward. That is why we are asking that this be 
voted down, will not support it today, and, along with the 
administration, who has said that it will be vetoed if it does reach 
his desk, this is something we would rather find a way to have a bill 
that could suffice or could make the provisions of this bill even 
stronger. This is not happening today.
  Mr. Speaker, I will ask for a ``no'' vote when this comes forward, 
and I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield the balance of my time to the 
gentlewoman from California (Ms. Pelosi), the distinguished Speaker of 
the House.
  Ms. PELOSI. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding, Mr. 
Nadler, the distinguished chair of the Judiciary Committee. I thank him 
for his leadership in bringing this important opportunity for America 
to the floor of the House today.
  I commend Congresswoman Terri Sewell for her tremendous leadership, 
the gentlewoman from Alabama, who knows this subject well, personally, 
geographically, and officially, now, as a leading member of the House 
of Representatives. I thank her for her leadership.
  I thank Congresswoman Marcia Fudge for holding field hearings from 
Alabama to Arizona on this urgent issue of voting rights. That scope of 
Alabama to Arizona is not alphabetically a big range, but, 
geographically and experiencewise, it is.
  And to Congressman   John Lewis, the conscience of the Congress, what 
an honor it is for each and every one of us to serve with him, to call 
him colleague and, in many cases, to call him friend. He is a civil 
rights hero of the House, whose Voter Empowerment Act was the backbone 
of H.R. 1, the For the People Act.
  Because there is some resistance on the side of the aisle here to our 
reducing the role of dark money in politics, which is a significant 
part of H.R. 1, we pulled out H.R. 4 as its own vehicle on the floor, 
and I thank all the House Democrats who came to Congress committed to 
restoring the right to the ballot, reflected in our naming of this 
legislation, H.R. 4, one of our top priorities.
  And I say Democrats, but it saddens me to hear the distinguished 
ranking member's comments about this legislation and urging a ``no'' 
vote on the Republican side, because I was leader when we passed the 
Voting Rights Act that the Court sent us back to the drawing board on.
  At that time, we had around 400 votes in the House of 
Representatives, upwards of 395, 400 votes, a completely bipartisan 
vote to pass that bill; and it was unanimous in the United States 
Senate, not partisan in any way. And we have come to a place where the 
Court said you need to do this or thus.
  We followed Justice Roberts' guidance; and now, with the improvements 
insisted upon by Justice Roberts, the Republicans have gone from being 
part of a nearly 400-vote majority on the bill to, hopefully, not being 
unanimously against it, but we will see.
  Mr. Speaker, nearly 55 years ago, President Lyndon Johnson came to 
the House of Representatives. He came on the House floor to urge 
passage of the Voting Rights Act ``for the dignity of man and the 
destiny of democracy.''
  He declared: ``This was the first nation in the history of the world 
to be founded with a purpose. . . . `All men are created equal.'
  ``Those are not just clever words. . . . In their name, Americans 
have fought and died for two centuries. . . . Those words are a promise 
to every citizen that he shall share in the dignity of man.''
  He continued: ``Our fathers believed that if this noble view of the 
rights of man was to flourish, it must be rooted in democracy . . . the 
right to choose your own leaders. The history of this country, in large 
measure, is the history of the expansion of that right to all of our 
people.''
  Yet, a half century later, the constitutional right of all Americans 
to determine their leaders and the destiny of our democracy is under 
great assault from a brazen, nationwide voter suppression campaign.
  Since the Shelby v. Holder decision, 23 States--maybe more--have 
enacted voter suppression laws, including voter purges, strict ID 
requirements, poll closures, and vote intimidation, denying millions 
their voices by their vote.
  The record compiled by the committees shows that the counties with 
the worst histories of voter suppression doubled down on their 
discrimination during this time, purging 17 million voters from the 
rolls between 2016 and 2018 alone, primarily people of color.
  Today, the House is honoring our Nation's sacred pledge--all are 
created equal--by passing H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act.
  This bill restores the Voting Rights Act's strength to combat the 
clear resurgence of voter discrimination unleashed by Shelby by 
updating the data determining which States and practices are covered by 
the law. No longer will cynical politicians and States with dark 
histories of discrimination have a green light to freely continue their 
systematic suppression campaign.
  When President Johnson spoke on this floor, he said: ``There must be 
no delay, no hesitation, and no compromise with our purpose. . . . We 
have already waited a hundred years and more, and the time for waiting 
is gone.''
  Indeed, it took the courage and the ultimate sacrifice of countless 
Americans, including our own   John Lewis, to secure the passage of the 
Voting Rights Act. Honoring and strengthening that legacy is essential 
to our democracy. We want to be sure that everyone who is eligible to 
vote can vote and that that person's vote is counted as cast.
  Today, too, the time for waiting is gone. We must pass this bill, 
which is a vote for civil rights, liberty, and justice for all.
  I thank Mr. Nadler, Marcia Fudge, and Terri Sewell, the author of 
this legislation, which she introduced now to the third Congress, for 
giving us the privilege to be part of honoring the pledge of our 
Founders: All are created equal.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge an ``aye'' vote on the bill.
  Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Ms. BASS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to support H.R. 4, the Voting 
Rights Advancement Act of 2019.
  This bill restores the full power of the Voting Rights Act, after the 
2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder eviscerated it. 
It will also restore critical voting protections to ensure that 
discriminatory voter suppression laws do not block Americans from 
participating in the electoral process.
  The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy. During the civil 
rights movement, courageous Americans fought in the courts, marched, 
agitated, and gave the ``last full measure of devotion'' for all 
Americans to be able to exercise their precious right to vote. The bill 
includes provisions that promote transparency by mandating reasonable 
public notice for voting changes. It also grants the Attorney General 
the authority to request the

[[Page H9326]]

presence of federal observers anywhere in the country to prevent voter 
suppression efforts and to address discrimination based on race in the 
voting process. In addition, this bill authorizes a federal court to 
order States or jurisdictions to be covered under the Act when there 
are results-based violations, where the effect of a voting measure is 
racial discrimination in voting and blocking citizens from utilizing 
their right to vote.
  For all these reasons and more, today, I am so proud to stand with my 
colleagues and members of the Congressional Black Caucus in support of 
the passage of H.R. 4, and want to send a special thank you to my 
colleagues Congresswoman Terri Sewell and Congresswoman Marcia Fudge 
who have fearlessly and brilliantly led this fight in the House of 
Representatives.
  Ms. JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 4, the 
Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019. This bill restores the full 
strength of the Voting Rights Act, after a 2013 Supreme Court Decision 
gutted the Act. The result was a flood of voter suppression laws 
throughout the country.
  The possibility of restoring a democratic process that has stifled 
the black and brown vote in the U.S. deserves our support. We must 
never allow our constitutional rights to be diminished or even 
eliminated.
  In 2013, the Supreme Court decision, Shelby County v. Holder, struck 
down the existing formula that determined which states and political 
subdivisions were required to seek federal pre-approval for their 
voting-related changes. This was to ensure they did not discriminate 
against minority voters. The Supreme Court put the onus on Congress to 
enact a new formula, which resulted in States and political 
subdivisions not being required to seek preclearance unless ordered by 
a federal court.
  H.R. 4 restores the Section 5 preclearance process by including a new 
formula for coverage that ensures that only States and jurisdictions 
with a recent history of discrimination or use of voter suppression 
practices would be subject to review before implementing new voting 
laws or procedures.
  H.R. 4 protects the sacred rights of minority voters and helps 
identity discriminatory voting practices. Congress must protect our 
polls and support H.R. 4 to ensure the constitutional right to vote for 
every citizen of the United States.
  Ms. SEWELL of Alabama. Mr. Speaker, I include in the Record the 
following letters of support for H.R. 4.

   Faith Leader Call on Congress To Restore the Voting Rights Act NOW

       Voting is a sacred right and a cornerstone of democracy. We 
     desperately need to protect every American's right to vote--
     and right now this right is endangered by gaps in the law. 
     Our spiritual ancestors in the Civil Rights Movement fought 
     for the Voting Rights Act. We must honor their sacrifices 
     today by passing the Voting Rights Advancement Act.--Rev. Dr. 
     Jennifer Butler, CEO, Faith in Public Life
       We stand on the shoulders of so many in our nation who have 
     shown courage and resistance to realize their right to vote, 
     who have fought tirelessly to make sure America lives up to 
     its full potential. Voting is a crucial part of what we must 
     do to hold our elected officials--to hold America--
     accountable to not just the dream that Rev. Martin Luther 
     King, Jr. laid out for us, but also the promise that America 
     has held since its beginnings. Yes, it's a promise 
     historically marred by injustice, but it is the promise of a 
     better way. It is a sin and a shame to witness how voting 
     rights have been suppressed and denied since 2013. Voting is 
     a way that we claim the freedom that we have in America. Our 
     most urgent request to Congress is the same as that made by 
     MLK over 40 years ago: give us the ballot.--Rev. Dr. Leslie 
     Copeland-Tune, Chief Operating Officer, National Council of 
     Churches
       By our own admission, within our most precious documents, 
     we acknowledge that ALL people are part of God's creation and 
     that we are one nation under God. As such, our democracy says 
     that every citizen should be respected regardless of sex, 
     race, national origin, etc. and that the government is 
     accountable to defend and protect the rights of its public, 
     its citizens. The most precious nature of America society is 
     the right to vote. We have the dignity of citizenship rights; 
     laws are necessary to defend that dignity and those rights, 
     unobstructed, so citizens can enjoy voting and electing their 
     officials.--Imam Dr. Talib M. Shareef, USAF-Retired, 
     President, Masjid Muhammad, The Nation's Mosque
       My faith teaches that every person is imbued with dignity, 
     and in a secular democracy our vote is an indicator of that 
     worth. Voter suppression and intimidation is a familiar, age-
     old practice of marginalizing people in poverty and people of 
     color. A democratic system that suppresses the vote of any 
     citizen is not only unconstitutional, it is dehumanizing. 
     This dehumanizing must stop! Our nation is better than this. 
     A significant step forward would be to pass a 21st Century 
     Voting Rights Act now. This cannot wait. It is the faithful 
     and patriotic way forward.--Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, 
     Executive Director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social 
     Justice
       The United Methodist Church affirms the critical role of 
     governments in protecting the rights of all people to free 
     and fair elections. In particular, the Church support efforts 
     to dismantle policies and practices that disenfranchise 
     communities of color and perpetuate systemic injustice.''--
     Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, General Secretary, General Board 
     of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church
       The Religious Society of Friends (Quaker) faith was founded 
     on the belief in the equality of all. Voter suppression in 
     the United States violates this central belief and we must 
     work to assure everyone has the right to vote. We call on 
     lawmakers across the nation to take a stand against voter 
     suppression and pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 
     4).--Diane Randall, Executive Secretary, Friends Committee on 
     National Legislation
       The requirement of society to provide human dignity for 
     all, which stands at the root of all theological traditions, 
     strikes a blow at the very heart of the spurious arguments 
     made by those who want to prevent others from voting based on 
     age, race, disability, or history of contact with the 
     criminal justice system. As an organization that works with 
     many who come from communities that have been historically 
     subjected to all forms of discrimination, the National 
     Religious Campaign Against Torture believes that the right to 
     vote and to fully participate in the democracy is a sacred 
     right and one that should never be taken away from anyone, 
     for any reason.--Rev. Dr. Ron Stief, Executive Director, 
     National Religious Campaign Against Torture
       As Franciscans, our Christian faith teaches us that we must 
     recognize each person as a gift from God, and that we must 
     emphasize the importance of the essential humanity and 
     dignity of each person. Pope Francis has called on us to 
     ``meddle in politics'' and we interpret this concept as a 
     requirement that all Americans must have an equal say in the 
     public square. Therefore, we must immediately call on 
     Congress to pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act to ensure 
     that all Americans are able to vote.--Patrick Carolan, 
     Executive Director, Franciscan Action Network
       At the National Council of Jewish Women, we are guided by 
     the Jewish imperative to pursue tzedek, or justice. For 
     justice to be realized, all eligible voters must have an 
     opportunity to participate in the electoral process. Without 
     access to the ballot, we can't elect lawmakers who represent 
     our communities and our needs. Congress must restore the full 
     strength of the Voting Rights Act without delay.--Sheila 
     Katz, CEO, National Council of Jewish Women
       It was when the collective voice of the people cried out to 
     the Lord in Exodus 3:9 that God hears and sent deliverance to 
     Nation of Israel! Voting by the oppressed was the way black 
     people could lift up their voices, cry out, and participate 
     in creating a more just nation! Restoration of the Voting 
     Rights Act so all voices are heard is essential to perfecting 
     this nation and assuring that it does not return to and 
     separate but unequal society!--Rev. Reuben D. Eckels, Church 
     World Service (CWS)
       Since voting is so fundamental to our democracy, all 
     citizens should be committed to making it possible for 
     everyone to exercise that right. The Voting Rights 
     Advancement Act is critical to having a genuine 
     representative democracy and to make sure that the most 
     vulnerable populations are not disenfranchised from the 
     democratic process. People of faith are concerned that the 
     voice of the people be truly representative of all the 
     people.--Bishop John Stowe, Bishop-President, Pax Christi USA
       In the Bible, we are reminded that ``when justice is done, 
     it brings joy to the righteous'' (Proverbs 21:15). The 
     Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) understands 
     that justice is done when we live out our mutual 
     responsibility for one another by guaranteeing our neighbor's 
     right to vote and participate freely and fully in society. In 
     2013, the ELCA Churchwide Assembly, our denomination's 
     highest legislative authority, adopted a social policy 
     resolution titled Voting Rights to All Citizens. This 
     resolution calls us to express concern for our nation's 
     history of voter suppression from the Jim Crow era to the 
     current climate of restrictive voter laws that create 
     barriers to many people of color in their right to vote. This 
     resolution calls on all part of this church to ``promote 
     public life worthy of the name'' by speaking out as advocates 
     and engaging in local efforts such as voter registration and 
     supporting legislation to guarantee the right to vote to all 
     citizens. We support the Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 
     2978) as a key step in ensuring the voices of all citizens 
     will be safeguarded and heard through its provisions which 
     would help reinstate guidelines that ensure protection 
     through oversight and combat voter suppression.--Rev. Amy 
     Reumann, Director of Advocacy, Evangelical Lutheran Church in 
     America
       The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been a long-time 
     advocate for voting rights. We were deeply dismayed by the 
     actions of the Supreme Court to void Section 5 of the Voting 
     Rights Act. This decision left many people of color 
     vulnerable to discriminatory voting laws that have 
     historically plagued communities of color. Voting is our 
     right as U.S. citizens. Taking away or restricting one's 
     ability to exercise their voice at the polls is not only 
     immoral; it is unconstitutional. The actions of many states 
     in passing

[[Page H9327]]

     extremely restrictive voting laws are unjust and must be 
     addressed. As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once 
     stated, ``injustice anywhere is a threat to justice 
     everywhere.'' Congress must stand on the side of justice and 
     restore the Voting Rights Act.--Rev. Jimmie R. Hawkins, 
     Director of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Office of Public 
     Witness
       As Reform Jews, our teachings motivate our advocacy to 
     protect voting rights and fight voter suppression. Rabbi 
     Yitzhak taught, ``A ruler is not to be appointed unless the 
     community is first consulted,'' (Babylonian Talmud Berochot 
     55a). Diminished federal voter protections and rampant voter 
     suppression undermines the ability of all people, 
     particularly communities of color, to participate in our 
     democracy. It is time for Congress to restore those 
     protections and pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 
     4/S. 561). Our faith's commitment to political participation 
     demands that Congress pass this Shelby fix as a step towards 
     ensuring that the whole community is represented.--Rabbi 
     Jonah Dov Pesner, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
       Voting is at the heart of the democratic process. It is the 
     most fundamental access point for individuals to have a voice 
     in the public policy decision-making process that can shape 
     the future of our local, regional and global collective life. 
     As people of faith, we believe every vote is a voice, and 
     every voices counts. It is unconscionable that we are 
     entering the 2020 election season with fewer voting rights 
     protections than we had in 1965. This signals an erosion of 
     our democracy that is a moral crisis. The right to vote is a 
     national value that transcends partisanship. It goes beyond 
     political party identification to our core values as a nation 
     and the centrality of a citizen's free vote, not limited by 
     the powers of money, social class and unequal access to 
     voting. It is imperative that we pass a fix for the damage 
     done by the Supreme Court Shelby decision by restoring voter 
     protections.--Sandra Sorensen, Director of Washington Office, 
     United Church of Christ (UCC)
       The National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good 
     Shepherd calls on Congress to pass the Voting Rights 
     Advancement Act. We have seen over the last six years 
     increasing hostility to full voting rights for all Americans 
     since the U.S. Supreme Court partially struck down the Voting 
     Rights Act. We have seen new barriers put up to restrict the 
     number of voters of color, suppressing the full American 
     voice and skewing our response to important civil and human 
     rights issues in need of our attention. As people of faith, 
     we are called to liberate the oppressed and marginalized. 
     Please restore the vote.--Lawrence E. Couch, Director, 
     National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
       It is clearer than ever today that democracy is a process, 
     not a static state. Democracy requires care, investment, and 
     vigilance to ensure all voices are represented. The shameful 
     history of racism in U.S. voting systems is not over, and new 
     approaches designed to restrict certain communities' access 
     to a free and fair vote cannot be tolerated. The federal 
     government must act now to reinstate and expand protections 
     of voting rights for all people.--Joyce Ajlouny, General 
     Secretary, American Friends Service Committee
       The right to vote without any impediments or obstructions 
     is one of the most basic privileges of our democracy 
     belonging to all age-eligible American citizens regardless of 
     race, religion, or gender orientation. I call upon our Senate 
     and House to protect this sacred right which is critical for 
     the defense of all our other rights and privileges.--Rev. Dr. 
     Jeffrey Haggray, American Baptist Home Mission Societies
       American Baptist Churches, USA have officially advocated 
     for voter rights for many decades and we continue ``. . . to 
     declare the right to vote to be a basic human right, and 
     support programs and measures to assure this right. The right 
     of citizenship in a nation, to participate in the political 
     process, to form political parties, to have a voice in 
     decisions made in the political arena are basic undeniable 
     human rights. The Bible teaches us that all humanity is 
     created in God's image and that we are all valuable in God's 
     sight.''--Dr. C. Jeff Woods, Acting General Secretary, 
     American Baptist Churches, USA
       We are the church, the body of Christ in this world, at 
     this time. We need to stop the racist suppression of the 
     votes of people of color. Denying people their right to vote 
     is counter to the will of God. This is especially true when 
     rich and powerful interests seek to deny people who have been 
     historically marginalized from shaping our society. We need 
     to change our policies and our laws to make voting a concrete 
     reality for all of God's children.--Rev. Ms. Paula Clayton 
     Dempsey, Executive Minister, Alliance of Baptists
       People have a right and a duty to participate in society, 
     seeking together the common good and wellbeing of all 
     persons, especially the poor and vulnerable. Voter 
     suppression laws strike at this tenet of Catholic Social 
     Teaching by denying that right to those who are 
     disproportionately poor, especially African American, Native 
     American and Hispanic American communities. As faithful 
     citizens of every faith and humanitarian tradition, we affirm 
     our common responsibility to promote the dignity of every 
     person and to work for justice and the common good. That can 
     only happen if we are all afforded the basic right to vote 
     and to participate fully in our democratic process.--Scott 
     Wright, Director, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
       As Unitarian Universalists, our 5th Principle affirms ``the 
     right of conscience and the use of the democratic process 
     within our congregations and in society at large''. 
     Therefore, we advocate for restoration of full protections 
     under the Voting Rights Act. When our democracy is in peril, 
     so too are our civil rights. Racial discrimination and voter 
     suppression are on the rise--an unacceptable circumstance to 
     freedom-loving citizens of the United States and one that our 
     faith calls us to confront. The pernicious impacts of Shelby 
     County v. Holder must be halted and reversed.
       As the leader of a faith-based education, witness and 
     advocacy organization, I know that issues like poverty, 
     immigration, climate change, and rising inequity in our 
     society cannot improve unless we defend the basic tenets of 
     our democracy. Our democracy works best when everyone can 
     fully participate. Congress should strive to make our 
     elections more free, more fair and more accessible. The more 
     Americans who participate in our elections, the better our 
     democracy reflects who we are as a country and the better we 
     can meet the complex challenges of our times.--(Pablo) Pavel 
     DeJesus, Executive Director, Unitarian Universalists for 
     Social Justice (UUSJ).
                                  ____

                                      Lawyers' Committee for Civil


                                             Rights Under Law,

                                                 December 3, 2019.
     Re Recommended Vote in Favor of H.R. 4, the Voting Rights 
         Advancement Act.

       Dear Members of the U.S. House of Representatives: On 
     behalf of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, 
     a nonpartisan civil rights organization formed at the request 
     of President Kennedy to enlist the private bar's leadership 
     and resources in combating racial discrimination and securing 
     equal justice under law, I am writing to urge you to vote in 
     favor of H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA). We 
     oppose any Motion to Recommit (MTR).
       The VRAA would restore the Section 5 preclearance process 
     that was struck down by the Supreme Court in the 2013 Shelby 
     County v. Holder decision by creating a new formula for 
     coverage that ensures that only states and jurisdictions with 
     a recent history of voting discrimination or use of voter 
     suppression practices would be subject to review prior to 
     implementing new voting laws or procedures.
       Prior to Shelby, covered jurisdictions had to provide 
     notice to the federal government--which meant notice to the 
     public--before they could implement changes in their voting 
     practices or procedures. Such notice is of paramount 
     importance, because the ways that the voting rights of 
     minority citizens are jeopardized are often subtle. They 
     range from the consolidation of polling places so as to make 
     it less convenient for minority voters to vote, to the 
     curtailing of early voting hours that makes it more difficult 
     for hourly-wage earners to vote, to the disproportionate 
     purging of minority voters from voting lists under the 
     pretext of ``list maintenance.''
       In the more than six years since the Shelby decision, the 
     floodgates to voting discrimination have been swung open, 
     threating the voting rights of millions of Americans. The 
     gutting of the core protection of the Voting Rights Act did 
     not simply harm African Americans and other people of color, 
     it challenged the very foundation of our democracy and our 
     decades-long march towards equality. Voting is the right that 
     is ``preservative of all rights,'' because it empowers people 
     to elect candidates of their choice, who will then govern and 
     legislate to advance other rights. But, voting rights have 
     always been contested in this country, with gains in turnout 
     and representation by people of color often met with an 
     inevitable backlash that sought to reduce their electoral 
     power.
       The passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 marked a 
     turning point in our nation, when the promise of equal 
     justice and democracy in our Constitution was made real for 
     people of color for the first time in our history. Since that 
     time, overwhelming bipartisan majorities in Congress have 
     reauthorized the Voting Rights Act several times, each time 
     amassing a significant congressional record of the current 
     threats to the franchise and implementing changes to ensure 
     the ongoing efficacy of the Voting Rights Act. Now, we ask 
     you to take the mantle from your predecessors and restore the 
     full protections of the Voting Rights Act by passing H.R. 4, 
     the VRAA.
       Thank you for your leadership in protecting the fundamental 
     right to vote and our democracy by voting for H.R. 4, the 
     VRAA, and by opposing any Motion to Recommit.
           Sincerely,
                                                   Kristen Clarke,
     President & Executive Director.
                                  ____

                                         The Leadership Conference


                                    on Civil and Human Rights,

                                 Washington, DC, December 4, 2019.

             Support H.R. 4, Voting Rights Advancement Act

       Dear Representative: On behalf of The Leadership Conference 
     on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of more than 200 
     national organizations committed to promoting and

[[Page H9328]]

     protecting the civil and human rights of all persons in the 
     United States, and the 68 undersigned organizations, we write 
     in strong support of H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement 
     Act. We oppose any Motion to Recommit.
       The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) is one of the most 
     successful civil rights laws ever enacted. Congress passed 
     the VRA in direct response to evidence of significant and 
     pervasive discrimination across the country, including the 
     use of literacy tests, poll taxes, intimidation, threats, and 
     violence. By outlawing the tests and devices that prevented 
     people of color from voting, the VRA and its prophylactic 
     preclearance formula put teeth into the 15th Amendment's 
     guarantee that no citizen can be denied the right to vote 
     because of the color of their skin.
       H.R. 4 has received vocal and vigorous support from the 
     civil rights community because it responds to the urgent need 
     to stop the abuses by state and local governments in the 
     aftermath of the Supreme Court's infamous 2013 decision in 
     Shelby County v. Holder, when five justices of the Supreme 
     Court invalidated the VRA's preclearance provision. In its 
     decision, the Court stated: ``Our country has changed, and 
     while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, 
     Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy 
     that problem speaks to current conditions.''
       Since Shelby County, discriminatory policies have 
     proliferated nationwide and continued in areas formerly 
     covered by the preclearance requirement. In states, counties, 
     and cities across the country, public officials have pushed 
     through laws and policies designed to make it harder for many 
     communities to vote. While we have celebrated successful 
     legal challenges to discriminatory voter ID laws in Texas and 
     North Carolina, such victories occurred only after elections 
     in those states were tainted by discrimination. Lost votes 
     cannot be reclaimed and discriminatory elections cannot be 
     undone.
       But voter suppression is not merely the province of those 
     states with a long history of discrimination. Pernicious 
     practices such as voter purging and restrictive 
     identification requirements--which disproportionately affect 
     voters of color--occur in states throughout the nation. 
     Although progress has been made, some elected leaders in this 
     country are still working to silence people who were 
     historically denied access to the ballot box.
       During the 116th Congress, the U.S. House Committee on the 
     Judiciary held extensive hearings and found significant 
     evidence that barriers to voter participation remain for 
     people of color and language-minority voters in African-
     American, Asian American, Latinx, and Native American 
     communities. The hearings examined the History and 
     Enforcement of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (March 12, 
     2019), Enforcement of the Voting Rights Act in the State of 
     Texas (May 3, 2019), Continuing Challenges to the Voting 
     Rights Act Since Shelby County v. Holder (June 25, 2019), 
     Discriminatory Barriers to Voting (September 5, 2019), 
     Evidence of Current and Ongoing Voting Discrimination 
     (September 10, 2019), Congressional Authority to Protect 
     Voting Rights After Shelby County v. Holder (September 24, 
     2019), and Legislative Proposals to Strengthen the Voting 
     Rights Act (October 17, 2019). The Committee on House 
     Administration also conducted numerous hearings and amassed 
     significant evidence of voter suppression during the 116th 
     Congress.
       H.R. 4 restores and modernizes the Voting Rights Act by:
       Creating a new coverage formula that hinges on a finding of 
     repeated voting rights violations in the preceding 25 years.
       Significantly, the 25-year period is measured on a rolling 
     basis to keep up with ``current conditions,'' so only states 
     and political subdivisions that have a recent record of 
     racial discrimination in voting are covered.
       States and political subdivisions that qualify for 
     preclearance will be covered for a period of 10 years, but if 
     they establish a clean record during that time period, they 
     can be extracted from coverage.
       Establishing ``practice-based preclearance,'' a targeted 
     process for reviewing voting changes in jurisdictions 
     nationwide focused on measures that have historically been 
     used to discriminate against voters of color. The process for 
     reviewing changes in voting is limited to a set of practices, 
     including:
       Changes to the methods of elections (to or from at-large 
     elections) in areas that are racially, ethnically, or 
     linguistically diverse;
       Reductions in language assistance;
       Annexations changing jurisdictional boundaries in areas 
     that are racially, ethnically, or linguistically diverse;
       Redistricting in areas that are racially, ethnically, or 
     linguistically diverse;
       Reducing, consolidating, or relocating polling locations in 
     areas that are racially, ethnically, or linguistically 
     diverse; and
       Changes in documentation or requirements to vote or 
     register.
       H.R. 4 also:
       Allows a federal court to order states or jurisdictions to 
     be covered for results-based violations, where the effect of 
     a particular voting measure is racial discrimination in 
     voting and denying citizens their right to vote;
       Increases transparency by requiring reasonable public 
     notice for voting changes;
       Allows the attorney general authority to request the 
     presence of federal observers anywhere in the country where 
     there is a serious threat of racial discrimination in voting; 
     and
       Revises and tailors the preliminary injunction standard for 
     voting rights actions to recognize that there will be cases 
     where there is a need for immediate preliminary relief.
       For over half a century, protecting citizens from racial 
     discrimination in voting has been bipartisan work. The VRA 
     was passed with leadership from both the Republican and 
     Democratic parties, and the reauthorizations of the 
     enforcement provisions were signed into law each time by 
     Republican presidents: President Nixon in 1970, President 
     Ford in 1975, President Reagan in 1982, and President Bush 
     in 2006.
       Voting must transcend partisanship. No matter what policy 
     issues we care most about, we get closer to these goals 
     through the ballot box. The integrity of our democracy 
     depends on ensuring that every eligible voter can participate 
     in the electoral process. Passing H.R. 4 would be a giant 
     step toward restoring the right to vote and undoing the 
     damage done by the Supreme Court's Shelby County decision. 
     During the civil rights movement, brave Americans gave their 
     lives for the right to vote, and we cannot allow their legacy 
     and the protections they fought for to unravel. We urge 
     Congress to pass this historic legislation.
           Sincerely,
       The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; 
     Advancement Project; American Federation of Labor and 
     Congress of Industrial Organizations, African American 
     Ministers In Action; American Association of University 
     Women; American Civil Liberties Union; American Federation of 
     State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); American 
     Federation of Teachers; Andrew Goodman Foundation; Anti-
     Defamation League; Arab American Institute; Asian Americans 
     Advancing Justice--AAJC; Autistic Self Advocacy Network; Bend 
     the Arc: Jewish Action; Blue Future; Brennan Center for 
     Justice at NYU School of Law; Campaign Legal Center.
       Connecticut Citizen Action Group; Clean Elections Texas; 
     Communications Workers of America (CWA); Congregation of Our 
     Lady of Charity ofthe Good Shepherd, U.S. Provinces; 
     Democracy 21; Democracy Initiative; Demos; End Citizens 
     United Action Fund; FairVote Action; Fix Democracy First; 
     Franciscan Action Network; Generation Progress; Greenpeace 
     USA; Human Rights Campaign; Our Own Voice: National Black 
     Women's Reproductive Justice Agenda; International Union, 
     United Automobile Aerospace and Agricultural Implement 
     Workers of America, (UAW).
       Jewish Council for Public Affairs; Lawyers' Committee for 
     Civil Rights Under Law; Leadership Conference of Women 
     Religious; League of Conservation Voters Education Fund; 
     League of Women Voters of the United States; Main Street 
     Alliance; Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund 
     (MALDEF); National Association for the Advancement of Colored 
     People (NAACP); NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, 
     Inc.; NALEO Educational Fund; National Action Network; 
     National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd; 
     National Council of Jewish Women; National Disability Rights 
     Network (NDRN); National Education Association.
       National Urban League; Native American Rights Fund; NETWORK 
     Lobby for Catholic Social Justice; New American Leaders 
     Action Fund; People Demanding Action; People For the American 
     Way; Planned Parenthood Federation of America; Progressive 
     Turnout Project; Public Citizen; Religious Action Center of 
     Reform Judaism; Service Employees International Union (SEIU); 
     Sierra Club; Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund; Stand 
     Up America; Texas Progressive Action Network; UnidosUS; Union 
     for Reform Judaism; United Church of Christ, Justice and 
     Witness Ministries; Voices for Progress; YWCA USA.
                                  ____



                                                       MALDEF,

                                                 December 4, 2019.
     Re MALDEF Urges Support of the Voting Rights Advancement Act 
         of 2019, H.R. 4.

     House of Representatives,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Representative: There is no right more fundamental to 
     our democracy than the right to vote, and for Latino voters 
     and other voters of color, that right is in danger. Following 
     the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision, which effectively 
     ended preclearance review under Section 5 of the Voting 
     Rights Act of 1965 (VRA), states and localities moved to 
     implement discriminatory voting practices that would 
     previously have been blocked by the VRA. What we have seen 
     post-Shelby County confirms what we have long-known--that 
     voter discrimination lives on. Congress must act to restore 
     the preclearance coverage formula in the VRA, legislation 
     that has long-enjoyed bipartisan support. MALDEF (Mexican 
     American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), the nation's 
     leading Latino legal civil rights organization, urges you to 
     support the Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA) of 2019, 
     H.R. 4, to reenact safeguards to protect minority voters from 
     discriminatory voting laws.
       The VRA is regarded as one of the most important and 
     effective pieces of civil rights legislation due to its 
     ability to protect voters of color from discriminatory voting 
     practices before they take place. Since its founding, MALDEF 
     has focused on securing equal

[[Page H9329]]

     voting rights for Latinos, and promoting increased civic 
     engagement and participation within the Latino community, as 
     among its top priorities. MALDEF played a significant role in 
     securing the full protection of the VRA for the Latino 
     community through the 1975 congressional reauthorization of 
     the VRA. Over its now 51-year history, MALDEF has litigated 
     numerous cases under section 2, section 5, and section 203 of 
     the VRA, challenging at-large systems, discriminatory 
     redistricting, ballot access barriers, undue voter 
     registration restrictions, and failure to provide bilingual 
     materials. As the growth of the Latino population expands, 
     our work in voting rights increases as well.
       Section 5 of the VRA required states with a history of 
     discrimination in voting to seek pre-approval of voting-
     related changes from the U.S. Department of Justice or a 
     three-judge panel in Washington, DC. A voting-related change 
     that would have left minority voters worse off than before 
     the change would be blocked. The states and political 
     subdivisions that were required to submit voting-related 
     changes for preclearance were determined by a coverage 
     formula in section 4 of the VRA. The preclearance scheme--an 
     efficient and effective form of alternative dispute 
     resolution--prevented the implementation of voting-related 
     changes that would have denied voters of color a voice in our 
     elections, and it deterred many more restrictions from ever 
     being conceived. The Supreme Court in Shelby County--struck 
     down section 4 and called on Congress to enact a new formula 
     better tailored to current history. As a result, currently, 
     states or political subdivisions are no longer required to 
     seek preclearance unless ordered by a federal court.
       However, Chief Justice Roberts recognized in the majority 
     opinion in Shelby County that, ``voting discrimination still 
     exists; no one doubts that.'' Across the U.S., racial, 
     ethnic, and language-minority communities are rapidly 
     growing--the country's total population is projected to 
     become majority minority by 2044. Many officials in states 
     and local jurisdictions fear losing political power, and the 
     rapid growth of communities of color is often seen as a 
     threat to existing political establishments. Fear provokes 
     those in positions of power to implement changes to dilute 
     the voting power of the perceived threatening minority 
     community. Unfortunately, now that states and local 
     jurisdictions are not required to submit voting-related 
     changes for review, there is no longer a well-kept track 
     record on newly implemented discriminatory practices. 
     Nonetheless, we know, based on our litigation and analysis of 
     voting changes, that states and local jurisdictions are still 
     using discriminatory voting tactics to suppress the political 
     power of minority communities.
       Last month, MALDEF, NALEO, and Asian Americans Advancing 
     Justice--AAJC released a new report, Practice-Based 
     Preclearance: Protecting Against Tactics Persistently Used to 
     Silence Minority Communities' Votes, detailing the need for 
     forward-looking voting rights legislation that provides 
     protections for emerging minority populations. During the 
     VRA's more than 50-year history, all racial and ethnic 
     populations grew, but the growth of communities of color 
     significantly outpaced nonHispanic whites. While there are 
     states and localities where communities of color have 
     traditionally resided in larger numbers, growing communities 
     of historically underrepresented voters are now emerging in 
     new parts of the U.S. Between 2007 and 2014, five of the ten 
     U.S. counties that experienced the most rapid rates of Latino 
     population growth were in North Dakota or South Dakota, two 
     states whose overall Latino populations still account for 
     less than ten percent of their residents and are dwarfed by 
     Latino communities in states like New Mexico, Texas, and 
     California. It is precisely this rapid growth of different 
     racial or ethnic populations that results in the perception 
     that emerging communities of color are a threat to those in 
     political power.
       H.R. 4 includes important protections for these emerging 
     populations in the form of practice-based preclearance, or 
     ``known-practices'' coverage. Known-practices coverage would 
     focus administrative or judicial review narrowly on suspect 
     practices that are most likely to be tainted by 
     discriminatory intent or to have discriminatory effects, as 
     demonstrated by a broad historical record. This coverage 
     would extend to any jurisdiction in the U.S. that is home to 
     a racially, ethnically, and/or linguistically diverse 
     population and that seeks to adopt a covered practice, 
     despite that practice's known likelihood of being 
     discriminatory when used in a diverse population. The known 
     practices that would be required to be pre-approved before 
     adopted in a diverse state or political subdivision include: 
     1) changes in method of election to add or replace a single-
     member district with an at-large seat to a governing body, 2) 
     certain redistricting plans where there is significant 
     minority population growth in the previous decade, 3) 
     annexations or deannexations that would significantly alter 
     the composition of the jurisdiction's electorate, 4) certain 
     identification and proof of citizenship requirements, 5) 
     certain polling place closures and realignments, and 6) the 
     withdrawal of multilingual materials and assistance when not 
     matched by the reduction of those services in English. The 
     Practice-Based Preclearance report looked at these different 
     types of changes and found, based on two separate analyses of 
     voting discrimination, that these known practices occur with 
     great frequency in the modern era.
       Congress must protect access to the polls and pass the 
     VRAA, with known-practice coverage provisions. The VRAA is a 
     critical piece of legislation that will restore voter 
     protections that were lost due to the Shelby County decision. 
     We cannot allow another federal election cycle to take place 
     without ensuring that every voter can register and cast a 
     meaningful ballot. MALDEF urges you to stand with all voters 
     and to vote ``yes'' on H.R. 4.
           Sincerely,
                                                   Andrea Senteno,
     Regional Counsel.
                                  ____



                                                         SEIU,

                                                 December 4, 2019.
       Dear Representative: On behalf of two million members of 
     the Service Employees International Union (``SEIU''), I am 
     writing to urge you to vote in favor of H.R. 4, the Voting 
     Rights Advancement Act (VRAA), which will proceed to the 
     House floor for a vote on final passage this week.
       Following the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby v. 
     Holder, we have seen a surge of voter suppression tactics by 
     states and localities. These shameful tactics include the 
     enactment of strict voter ID laws, the purge of voters from 
     state voter rolls, and the closure of hundreds of polling 
     places that negatively impacts the ability of people of 
     color, immigrants, young people, and other historically 
     marginalized groups from accessing their constitutional right 
     to vote. In 2016 alone, 14 states passed new laws that 
     restricted access to the ballot for hard working Americans 
     and since then multiple federal courts found intentional 
     racial discrimination in our elections. These unjust actions 
     by states and localities to our electoral system must be 
     addressed with urgency to ensure the voices of working 
     people--Black, white & brown--are heard at the ballot box.
       H.R. 4 is an essential piece of legislation that will 
     restore critical civil rights protections for voters while 
     providing clear and consistent voting laws for every state to 
     ensure all eligible citizens can participate in our 
     democracy. The VRAA responds to the wave of biased attacks on 
     our election system since the Shelby decision by establishing 
     a ``rolling'' nationwide trigger mechanism so that only 
     states that have a recent record of racial discrimination in 
     voting would be covered. Under the legislation, these states 
     would have to submit any changes in their voting laws to be 
     precleared before implementation. In addition, the VRAA would 
     grant more power to the federal courts to hold accountable 
     states or jurisdictions whose voting practices have 
     discriminatory results. The VRAA is the dire reform of our 
     electoral system that our nation needs in order to restore 
     this fundamental right and make our democracy more accessible 
     to all people.
       Our democracy works best when all eligible voters, no 
     matter their color or how much money they make, can 
     participate in free and fair elections to make their voices 
     heard. We need Congress to restore integrity to our election 
     system. On behalf of our members, we are proud to support 
     this legislation to strengthen our democracy and values as a 
     nation. We will add votes on this legislation, including the 
     motion to recommit, to our legislative scorecard.
           Sincerely,
                                                   Mary Kay Henry,
                                          International President.
                                  ____
                                  


                                                       AFSCME,

                                                 December 3, 2019.
     House of Representatives,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Representative: On behalf of the members of the 
     American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees 
     (AFSCME), I write in support of the Voting Rights Advancement 
     Act (VRAA, H.R. 4). The VRAA is an important first step to 
     restoring voting rights protections and the Voting Rights Act 
     (VRA) of 1965.
       Signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, the VRA of 
     1965 was landmark legislation necessary to secure the right 
     to vote for every citizen. It ensured that state and local 
     governments would not deny any American the equal right to 
     vote based on race, color or membership in a minority 
     language group.
       The U.S. Supreme Court's 2013 ruling in Shelby County, 
     Alabama v. Holder undermined the VRA, and eliminated the 
     significant requirement for states and localities with a 
     well-documented history of discrimination to ``preclear'' any 
     new changes to voting practices and procedures. As a result, 
     those with a history of voter disenfranchisement would no 
     longer have to get approval from the Department of Justice or 
     a court to show that their laws do not have a discriminatory 
     purpose or effect. The results have been devastating and pose 
     a significant blow to the protections provided in the VRA. In 
     the wake of the decision, over three dozen state legislatures 
     have enacted new onerous restrictions on voter access. These 
     recent actions include onerous voter ID laws, restrictions on 
     early voting, and excessive purges of voter registration 
     lists, all of which subsequently make voting less accessible, 
     less transparent, more difficult, and challenging for many 
     voters.
       H.R. 4 is needed to restore fairness. It establishes a new 
     coverage formula based on repeated voting rights violations 
     over the preceding 25 years of a state's political 
     subdivisions. It also responds to nationwide discrimination 
     and requires ``practice-based preclearance'' for known 
     disenfranchisement

[[Page H9330]]

     strategies that disproportionately target communities of 
     color.
       The VRA is one of our nation's most important civil rights 
     laws. It is central to any effort to build a representative 
     democracy where citizens can exercise their most basic right 
     to vote. I strongly urge you to support H.R. 4 when it comes 
     before the House of Representatives.
           Sincerely,
                                                       Scott Frey,
                        Director of Federal Government of Affairs.
                                  ____
                                  


                              American Federation of Teachers,

                                                 December 6, 2019.
     House of Representatives,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Representative: On behalf of the more than 1.7 million 
     members of the American Federation of Teachers, I write in 
     strong support of H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act 
     of 2019.
       This important bill is a commonsense approach that responds 
     to the Supreme Court's 2013 decision in Shelby County v. 
     Holder, which struck down a long-standing key provision of 
     the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
       For nearly 50 years, the Voting Rights Act enshrined the 
     right to free and fair elections in our country. But in 2013, 
     the Supreme Court weakened the ``preclearance requirement'' 
     of the Voting Rights Act, deeming it no longer justified to 
     address the racial and geographic disparities it sought to 
     remedy when enacted. As a result, laws restricting voting 
     rights throughout the United States surged. In fact, an 
     analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice found that between 
     2016 and 2018, counties with a history of voter 
     discrimination purged voters from the rolls at much higher 
     rates than other counties. This trend is a direct consequence 
     of the Supreme Court's ruling in Shelby County v. Holder.
       It is an understatement to say that the Supreme Court's 
     decision ignored the real-life and ongoing efforts to 
     suppress voting rights across our nation. Today, the renewed 
     disenfranchisement tactics of old include, but are not 
     limited to, restrictive voter ID laws, outcome-driven 
     redistricting, limited voting hours and opportunities, and 
     misinformation about polling places and times. And let's be 
     clear, these tactics are all engineered to disproportionately 
     affect the voting rights of African American, Latinx, 
     immigrant and low-income voters, as well as students and 
     seniors.
       It is imperative that Congress take new action to ensure 
     the efficacy of the Voting Rights Act. We do not want future 
     generations of students to read in their history lessons that 
     the Supreme Court in 2013 turned the clock back on decades of 
     progress in voting rights and that that was the final word.
       Passage of H.R. 4 is a critical step toward fulfilling our 
     aspirations for a stronger democracy, where all voters can 
     exercise their fundamental rights. The long-term damage of 
     not doing so is unacceptable.
       To this end, I encourage you to fulfill your civic duty by 
     ensuring all Americans have their most fundamental of civil 
     rights protected by voting YES on H.R. 4.
       Thank you for considering our views on this important 
     matter.
           Sincerely,
                                                 Randi Weingarten,
                                                        President.
                                  ____
                                  
                                               National Council of


                                                 Jewish Women,

                                                 December 4, 2019.
     House of Representatives,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Representative: The National Council of Jewish Women 
     (NCJW) urges you to vote for the Voting Rights Advancement 
     Act (H.R. 4) when it comes to the floor this week and vote 
     against any Motion to Recommit.
       NCJW is a grassroots organization of volunteers and 
     advocates who turn progressive ideals into action. Throughout 
     its history, NCJW has educated and engaged our members and 
     supporters to drive voter turnout and expand voting rights, 
     including advocating for women's suffrage and the historic 
     Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA). This work is in pursuit of 
     tzedek, or justice--a core value of Judaism an inspiration 
     for our advocacy. Today, we work for election laws, policies, 
     and practices that ensure easy and equitable access and 
     eliminate obstacles to the electoral process so that every 
     vote counts and can be verified.
       H.R. 4 would restore the Voting Rights Act to its former 
     strength. The 2013 Shelby decision effectively ended the 
     federal government's ability, granted by the VRA, to preclear 
     changes to state and local election laws before they went 
     into effect. In his decision, Chief Justice Roberts urged 
     Congress to update the formula that determines which 
     jurisdictions need to participate in preclearance. H.R. 4 
     does exactly that by creating a new coverage formula based on 
     the preceding 25 years.
       Voter suppression most harms already marginalized 
     communities. Since Shelby, dozens of laws have passed across 
     the country making it easier to suppress the vote. These laws 
     disproportionately impact communities of color, minority-
     language speakers, low-income voters, elderly and young 
     voters, women, and transgender individuals.
       Voting is a fundamental right, protective of all other 
     rights. Congress has the power and responsibility to ensure 
     that every eligible person can cast a ballot by passing H.R. 
     4.
           Sincerely,

                                                  Jody Rabhan,

                                             Chief Policy Officer.
                                  ____
                                  


                                               Public Citizen,

                                                 December 5, 2019.
       Dear Representative: Tomorrow, the House of Representatives 
     will vote on the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019 (H.R. 
     4). This is an historic moment to cure an historic injustice. 
     Public Citizen strongly urges you to vote for H.R. 4.
       The principle of ``one person, one vote'' is critical to 
     our constitutional democracy--but for too much of our history 
     it was honored in the breach. The passage of the Voting 
     Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) is one of the proudest moments in 
     American history, as it affirmed this principle and corrected 
     the shameful denial and suppression of votes to African 
     Americans and other people of color.
       Shamefully, however, the U.S. Supreme Court in Shelby 
     County v. Holder stripped away Section 5 of the VRA, a 
     cornerstone of the law's protections. Since the Shelby 
     ruling, 23 states have enacted laws that disenfranchise 
     individuals and groups by restricting their ability to vote. 
     These sorts of repressive voter suppression tactics are 
     precisely the sort of draconian, discriminatory measures the 
     VRA was enacted to prevent.
       It is essential that H.R. 4 be enacted into law to repair 
     the damage done by the Shelby decision. This legislation 
     would modernize the VRA and restore protections necessary to 
     prevent racial voter discrimination, voter purges and voter 
     suppression.
       The heroes of the civil rights movement fought for the 
     VRA's original passage in 1965 amidst harsh Jim Crow-era 
     disenfranchisement laws and in the face of violent 
     opposition. It is utterly unconscionable that our nation has 
     backtracked on the voting rights progress achieved after 
     passage of the Voting Rights Act. Our country is better than 
     this.
       Public Citizen urges in the strongest terms that you to 
     vote in favor of H.R. 4 and oppose any efforts that could 
     weaken or undermine the legislation.
           Sincerely,
                                                  Robert Weissman,
                                                        President.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. All time for debate has expired.
  Pursuant to House Resolution 741, the previous question is ordered on 
the bill, as amended.
  The question is on the engrossment and third reading of the bill.
  The bill was ordered to be engrossed and read a third time, and was 
read the third time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 1(c) of rule XIX, further 
consideration of H.R. 4 is postponed.

                          ____________________