Durbin Delivers Opening Remarks During Hearing On Restoring & Strengthening The Voting Rights Act

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today delivered his opening statement during a hearing entitled “Protecting a Precious, Almost Sacred Right: The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act” on the urgent need to pass the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to restore and strengthen the Voting Rights Act. Durbin co-led the introduction of the bill this week, which would update and restore critical safeguards of the original Voting Rights Act.

Key quotes:

“At this moment, state legislatures, county commissions, and town councils are redrawing the lines that will help determine who the American people elect to represent them in Congress—and in their state capitols. This means that, for the first time since the days before Dr. King’s March on Washington, congressional, state, and local government legislative districts will be drawn without the key protections of the Voting Rights Act.”

“Americans have every reason to be concerned about the lack of transparency in this year’s redistricting process. Without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act, state legislators could redraw districts in ways that unlawfully diminish the power of voters of color.”

“This year alone, legislators throughout the country have introduced more than 425 bills with provisions to make it harder for people—particularly people of color—to vote. Nineteen states have gone on to enact 33 of these laws. Some of them set new limits on voting by mail, others cut hours on polling locations, but all of them are designed to achieve the same outcome: new barriers to the ballot box. The proponents of these laws claim they are designed to help prevent so-called ‘voter fraud’—but facts show claims of voter fraud are nothing more than grist for the mill of the Big Lie.”

“So if state legislators and others are going to defame and diminish our democracy… we, in the Congress, have a duty to defend it.”

“In the words of the Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, ‘this is a piece of legislation which has worked.’ I think he’s right. Let’s keep it working.”

“In our nation, there is no freedom more fundamental than the right to vote. As our old friend John Lewis said before his passing, ‘It is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have.’ Our democracy is strongest when every eligible voter votes.”

Video of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s opening statement is available here for TV Stations.