Chairman Nadler Floor Statement in Support of H.R. 4, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021
Washington, August 24, 2021
Washington, D.C. - Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following statement, as prepared, on the House floor in support of H.R. 4, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021:
"H.R. 4, the 'John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021,' would revitalize and strengthen the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to confront the onslaught of discriminatory voting laws and practices that have emerged in recent years across the country.
"In 2013, the Supreme Court, in Shelby County v. Holder, gutted the Voting Rights Act’s most important enforcement mechanism—its Section 5 preclearance regime—which required jurisdictions with a history of discrimination against racial and ethnic minority voters to seek approval of any changes to their voting laws before they could go into effect.
"Almost immediately after the decision, many of these jurisdictions unleashed a raft of voter suppression measures, knowing that these laws now could only be challenged after-the-fact and only through a costly and time-consuming process that made such challenges unlikely and when people's votes had already been improperly invalidated.
"When the Court struck down the coverage formula that determined which jurisdictions were subject to preclearance, it explicitly invited Congress to devise a new formula to meet the 'current need' to remedy voting discrimination.
"H.R. 4 answers that call.
"This legislation would create a new geographic coverage formula that is fine-tuned to capture only those places with longstanding and persistent discrimination. At the same time, it targets only recent discrimination and does not leave jurisdictions frozen in time.
"The bill also requires preclearance of certain practices that are historically associated with voting discrimination; it responds to the recent Supreme Court decision in Brnovich v. DNC—which severely limited enforcement of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act—and it provides other important tools to strengthen enforcement of the VRA.
"H.R. 4 rests on a substantial record that documents the myriad ways that the right to vote—the most fundamental right in a democracy—remains under threat for too many Americans."I want to thank Terri Sewell for introducing this bill, Steve Cohen for the 13 hearings on voting rights that he held in the Constitution Subcommittee, as well as our colleagues on the Elections Subcommittee on the Committee on House Administration for their work, and I urge all Members to join me in honoring the legacy of our beloved colleague, the late John Lewis—who shed his blood to secure passage of the Voting Rights Act—by supporting this vital legislation."