MESSAGE FROM THE DEMOCRATIC WHIP
We are now six months from a pivotal election and on Thursday I introduced comprehensive voting rights legislation, along with Congressman John Lewis and House Democrats. The Voter Empowerment Act will modernize voter registration, ensure equal access to the ballot box for all Americans, and prohibit deceptive practices and voter fraud that keep people from exercising their constitutional right to vote. While state legislatures across the country have made deliberate and systematic attempts to roll back access to the ballot, Democrats are focused on ensuring free and fair elections and that everyone can vote.
This week, I was disappointed that Republicans continued to choose confrontation over compromise by refusing to take up a bipartisan Senate bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. House Republicans put forward their own partisan bill, despite the fact that the Senate bill passed with 68 votes, including all female Republican Senators. The Republican bill rolls back current law and is opposed by hundreds of groups within the domestic violence community, law enforcement, civil rights and faith-based groups. I continue to urge Republicans to take up the bipartisan Senate bill so that we can continue to protect victims of domestic abuse.
The House also considered the defense authorization bill for Fiscal Year 2013. While this is a traditionally bipartisan issue and I supported the bill, I was disappointed House Republicans included several partisan provisions. Republicans set the spending level above what both parties agreed to last summer; did not allow debate on a bipartisan amendment to support the President's strategy in Afghanistan; included a Republican amendment that would permit American citizens to be detained indefinitely without due process; and adopted another partisan amendment that would roll back workers' hard-won rights to bargain collectively when working on federally funded construction projects. I hope that once the Senate has considered its own version, the House will take up a bipartisan bill that removes these troubling provisions.
STENY H. HOYER