Allred, Escobar, and Slotkin lead 2018 Freshman Class in Urging Passage of Modified Voting Rights Legislation During August Recess

July 30, 2021
Press Release
“From moderates to progressives, we feel that the urgency of passing federal voting rights legislation cannot be overstated...”

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Colin Allred (TX-32), a former voting rights attorney and co-president of the 2018 freshman class, Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16), former Freshman Co-Representative to Leadership, and Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (MI-08) led a letter to Congressional leadership and President Joe Biden urging immediate action on modified legislation to protect voting rights. The letter was signed by 34 of their colleagues who were elected in the historic freshman class of the 116th Congress.  

 

Key excerpts from the letter:

“With time running short, our fellow countrymen are looking to us to do all we can to address the threats these efforts present to our democracy in the near term,” the Members wrote. “We are therefore seeking your help with a strategy that seeks to immediately pass legislation to both affirmatively set national standards for voting under a modified H.R. 1/S. 1 and restore the protections enshrined in the Voting Rights Act in H.R. 4. This ‘sword and shield’ approach can both protect and expand voting rights for all Americans.”

“Our understanding is that a group of senators are working on a tailored bill based on the voting provisions of H.R.1 and we are in strong support of such legislation in both chambers,” the Members continued.

“...the undersigned are committed to returning to vote on these bills in August, during the district work period. We respectfully request you bring both of these critical pieces of legislation to the Congress for an up-or-down vote in both chambers,” the Members concluded.

Along with Allred, Escobar, and Slotkin, the letter was signed by Representatives Ed Case (HI-01), Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05), Cindy Axne (IA-03), Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07), Tom Malinowski (NJ-07), Abigail D. Spanberger (VA-07), Dean Phillips (MN-03), Chrissy Houlahan (PA-06), Chris Pappas (NH-01), Susan Wild (PA-07), Kim Schrier, M.D. (WA-08), Mike Levin (CA-49), David Trone (MD-06), Angie Craig (MN-02), Antonio Delgado (NY-19), Jason Crow (CO-06), Lucy McBath (GA-06), Sharice L. Davids (KS-03), Sylvia R. Garcia (TX-29), Madeleine Dean (PA-04), Susie Lee (NV-03), Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), Jennifer Wexton (VA-10), Sean Casten (IL-06), Joe Neguse (CO-02), Katie Porter (CA-45), Jesús G. Chuy” García (IL-04), Lori Trahan (MA-03), Andy Kim (NJ-03), Josh Harder (CA-10), and Greg Stanton (AZ-09).

Read the letter in its entirety below: 

 

Mr. President, Madam Speaker, and Leader Schumer,

We write to you today on an issue we know you care deeply about and which is fundamental to preserving our democracy: protecting the right to vote.

 

As members of the 2018 freshman class, we were elected with a mandate to focus on those elements of democracy that were under real threat. From moderates to progressives, we feel that the urgency of passing federal voting rights legislation cannot be overstated, particularly as states start to finalize voting laws ahead of the 2022 election. In as little as two weeks, states like Texas can begin redrawing districts and are on the cusp of passing legislation intended to shape the 2022 elections by eroding voters’ access to the ballot box. With time running short, our fellow countrymen are looking to us to do all we can to address the threats these efforts present to our democracy in the near term.

We are therefore seeking your help with a strategy that seeks to immediately pass legislation to both affirmatively set national standards for voting under a modified H.R. 1/S. 1 and restore the protections enshrined in the Voting Rights Act in H.R. 4. This “sword and shield” approach can both protect and expand voting rights for all Americans. We believe that these two pieces of legislation, in addition to intensive voter registration and education on the ground, are the three prongs of a robust strategy to protect the integrity of the 2022 election, and beyond.

To be clear, we remain committed to all the components of H.R. 1. But we believe the voting rights provisions of H.R.1, at minimum, can and should be taken up immediately to preempt harmful laws already passing in state houses across the country. Our understanding is that a group of senators are working on a tailored bill based on the voting provisions of H.R.1 and we are in strong support of such legislation in both chambers.

But we must not stop there. The Voting Rights Act was the crown jewel of the Civil Rights Movement, and it must be restored in this time of unprecedented assaults on the right to vote. The “shield” provided by a restored Voting Rights Act can prevent late changes to state laws, provide for preclearance of laws affecting the right to vote, and give litigants a chance to effectively challenge laws in federal court. With leadership from Representatives Sewell and Butterfield, the House is hard at work on bringing H.R. 4 to the floor for a vote.

Taken together, this “sword and shield” legislation can provide significant opportunities and protections for our democracy -- but we are quickly running out of time. To that end, the undersigned are committed to returning to vote on these bills in August, during the district work period. We respectfully request you bring both of these critical pieces of legislation to the Congress for an up-or-down vote in both chambers, rather than wait for guaranteed success in either vote. Let the American people see with their own eyes who supports their right to vote and who does not.

Thank you for your urgent attention to this matter. We know you are allies in the desire to protect and expand the vote. We look forward to doing whatever we can to get voting rights on the floor of the Congress as soon as possible.

Respectfully,

 

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