PROVIDING FOR CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 9, FANNIE LOU HAMER, ROSA PARKS, AND CORETTA SCOTT KING VOTING RIGHTS ACT REAUTHORIZATION AND AMENDMENTS ACT OF 2006
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Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for his kind words. I appreciate that.
Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to talk about the importance of passing this rule today to consider H.R. 9, the renewal of the Voting Rights Act.
I have the honor of serving as the chairman of the Subcommittee on the Constitution; and since October of 2005, our subcommittee has held 12 hearings, heard from 47 witnesses, and compiled over 12,000 pages on the Voting Rights Act. Obviously this is an important issue, and our committee has devoted more time to this legislation than on any other matter since I became the chairman of the Constitution Subcommittee 6 years ago.
The right to vote is one of the most fundamental and essential rights we have as citizens. And the passage and renewal of the Voting Rights Act, in my opinion, is absolutely vital.
H.R. 9 is a good bill, and I commend Chairman Sensenbrenner and the other members of the full Judiciary Committee, and especially the members of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, for their work on the drafting of this legislation. I am also confident that the bill will withstand constitutional scrutiny. The Supreme Court always looks very closely at the record created by Congress when reviewing Voting Rights Act claims.
Because of this analysis, we took the time to carefully review and draft the bill. In addition to reviewing the temporary provisions of the Voting Rights Act for another 25 years, it will also address two detrimental Supreme Court cases that are inconsistent with the congressional intent and purpose of the Voting Rights Act: the Bossier Parish and Georgia v. Ashcroft cases. The bill will prevent discriminatory voting laws from being passed and will ensure that minority voters continue to elect the preferred candidate of their choice. The bill will extend the Federal observer program but retire the outdated Federal examiner program.
I also wanted to talk about the bipartisanship of H.R. 9. I have been a member of the Judiciary Committee for 12 years now, and I will be honest, there is not a lot that is agreed upon in that committee by Republicans and Democrats, by conservatives and liberals. That is just the nature of most of the issues we take up in that committee. But we do agree on the importance of voting rights, and because of that commitment, H.R. 9 passed the committee by a vote of 33-1. Thirty-three to one.
I look forward to hearing from my fellow supporters of this legislation and would personally like to thank Mr. Nadler for his dedication and his commitment and sitting through the extensive hearings that we had to create this particular bill. And I want to also thank Chairman Sensenbrenner, Mr. Watt, and Mr. Conyers and urge my colleagues to vote for passage of this rule and ultimately passage of the bill.
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