WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — Democrats are making a fresh push for voting rights legislation in the U.S. Senate.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) says his bill introduced this week, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, will ensure that should states try to limit the right to vote, the federal government can intervene.
“To protect the right to vote for all Americans, regardless of party or race or creed or background,” he explained.
Democrats say there’s an urgent need to pass the bill, because states like Texas have already passed laws that restrict voters’ access to the ballot box.
“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,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said.
But Republicans, including Cruz, say the bill is a “federal takeover of election law.”
“This is a power grab. It’s cynical, and it’s wrong,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
“Department of Justice preclearance for everyone Democrats don’t like, and Department of Justice preclearance for everything Democrats don’t like,” said Cruz.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) fears this could open the door for federal surveillance over every state law.
“What about gun laws? Should a state be required to receive preclearance from federal officials before adopting gun restrictions?” Lee asked.
Even without Republicans on board, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says he will bring the bill to the floor for a vote “in the coming weeks.”