WASHINGTON – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today introduced a Senate Resolution to recognize, commemorate, and celebrate the 55th anniversary of the enactment of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. President Lyndon Johnson proposed the legislation just days after the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, during which the late Representative John Lewis was savagely beaten by law enforcement officers while crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge on what was to become known as “Bloody Sunday.” The Voting Rights Act passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law by President Johnson on August 6, 1965.
“As John Lewis recognized, the promise of America will never be fulfilled until each and every American has guaranteed and equal access to the ballot box,” said Senator Merkley. “American elections should be won or lost by convincing the voters, not by denying some of them the right to cast a ballot. So on this anniversary of the landmark Voting Rights Act, I would hope that every Democrat and Republican who recently praised Congressman Lewis’s lifetime of leadership and heroism will commit to a full restoration and expansion of the Voting Rights Act. All Americans must be able to fully participate in our democracy.”
“Today’s anniversary is a time to remember all the great Americans, like my late friend John Lewis and so many others, who fought 55 years ago for their right to vote and continued the fight to this day,” Senator Wyden said. “Recognizing this anniversary is yet another opportunity to rededicate ourselves to the hard work of putting words into action and carrying on that fight against all the forces still intent on suppressing Americans’ right to vote safely and securely.”
Since 2013, many States have passed discriminatory voting laws that have made it more difficult for people of color and low-income individuals to vote in elections. Nearly 1,200 polling locations have closed since the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder. The country is witnessing a spread of voter suppression laws sweep across the country. From voter identification laws, to voter roll purges, elected officials are making it hard for Americans to vote. This Resolution affirms the Senate’s commitment to modernizing and strengthening the Act through further legislative efforts.
In addition to Senator Merkley and Senator Wyden, the resolution was co-sponsored by Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tom Carper (D-DE), Doug Jones (D-AL), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Bob Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tina Smith (D-MN), Mark Warner (D-VA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).
A copy of the Resolution can be found here.