July 28, 2006

Commentary:

Congressional TriCaucus Celebrates the Signing of Bill to Renew Voting Rights Act

Act extends key voter protectionss for 25 years

The Congressional TriCaucus, made up of members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), issued the following statement on President Bush’s signing of the “Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006” (H.R. 9). The act will renew for 25 years certain provisions of the landmark Voting Rights Act that had been scheduled to expire next year.

“I applaud my colleagues in both the House and Senate for passing the VRA, which will extend the expiring provisions of the bill for another 25 years and I applaud the President for signing it promptly,” noted U.S. Representative Melvin L. Watt (D-NC), CBC Chair.“The passage and signing of the bill is a triumph for the legacy of civil rights pioneers and those individuals who sacrificed so much and worked tirelessly to ensure that all minority citizens can participate fully in our democracy.”

“I am grateful that the president chose to quickly sign the Voting Rights Act renewal bill, despite his noticeable silence during its debate in Congress,” said Congresswoman Linda T. Sánchez, vice chair of CHC’s Task Force on Civil Rights and lead member on the VRA. “Thanks to Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate, we successfully overcame the efforts of a small misinformed group of members of Congress who tried to derail the VRA and roll back important voter protections. Today, our country sends a strong message that we will remain a model for democracies everywhere by protecting the right of every citizen to vote.”

“The right to vote cannot be compromised and the VRA reauthorization will strengthen and protect this right for another 25 years,” said Congressman Charlie Gonzalez, Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Civil Rights Task Force. “Congress has the sacred responsibility bestowed by the lawmakers who crafted and enacted the original VRA to safeguard the right to vote, and I am proud that this institution chose to protect this foundational right. Anything less than a full reauthorization of the expiring provisions of the VRA was unacceptable and I’m pleased that members of the far right failed to block or dilute this bill.”

“Thanks to the efforts of the Congressional Black, Hispanic and Asian Pacific American Caucuses, the Voting Rights Act (VRA) has been renewed at long last,” said Rep. Mike Honda (CA – 15), Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC). “Credit is also due the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and those Members of Congress who understood the importance of the VRA to protecting all citizens against threats to the exercise of this country’s most fundamental right. The right to vote is the most powerful nonviolent weapon that all citizens – native born or naturalized – may wield to have their voices heard in this democracy, and to elect candidates of their choice without impediment.”

The TriCaucus is a voice in Congress for minority communities across the United States, tackling issues that disproportionately affect ethnic groups.

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