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Public Statements

The Week in Review

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. JACKSON LEE. I want to thank my colleague from Texas publicly for his commitment to the United States military and certainly for work that we collaborated on to work with a young soldier. We are always interested in making sure that our soldiers and their families have justice and access to justice. So thank you, Congressman, for your leadership on that issue.

And let me thank you for the brief time that I will utilize today and to indicate that I am so proud to be an American. I wish America, as we celebrate our birthday, that we become even more unified, more grateful of the red, white, and blue, and to take that day even to acknowledge our public servants, first responders, to acknowledge the men and women who serve in government, local governments, to those who serve in the United States Government and take every day and opportunity to celebrate those who are in uniform on this soil or places beyond. Let us congratulate them.

That causes me to indicate that the Voting Rights Act was a part of America. Many people are not aware that this Congress, with 398 votes-plus in the House and 98 votes in the Senate, reauthorized a bill that really means the right to vote for everyone. We take our instruction from the Supreme Court seriously, and what we will intend to do is seek a bipartisan effort to strengthen and to ensure that no vote is denied.

I do express great disappointment in the immediacy of the implementation of the Texas voter ID law and pray for the spiritual community to come together and pray for this Congress, of which we will do on this coming Sunday, June 30. We will pray for the Congress in Houston. And I ask that we pray across America that we will have the opportunity to do this very challenging effort together. The question of voting rights is not one of color; it is one of the freedom of this Nation.

I also want to add the recognition that all marriages are equal and free, and we ask that those who have been so positively impacted by the decision that the Supreme Court issued on DOMA likewise will continue to now recognize their freedom to find that marriage is in respect to all.

Let me conclude by raising this question so that you can see the reality of what the Voting Rights Act stands for. An immediate casualty of the elimination of the Voting Rights Act of 1965--when I say that, it's enforcement provision 4--was the closing of the last African American majority-minority school district, 50 years of history, teachers and workers and police officers and students who graduated and came back to contribute. The North Forest Independent School District, on the very day that the Supreme Court decision was rendered, had been in court ready to be protected by the Voting Rights Act, but now seven trustees of which this community voted for and cherished were eliminated on that Tuesday because of the undermining of the Voting Rights Act.

As a human factor, students who love teachers, teachers who love students, teachers were fired, doors were locked, administrators were thrown out, through no fault of their own. They had progress. They had, as many of us have had, years of some unfortunate history, but look at them now, because of the unfortunate history, the whole district, the community, the homes, the people who invested in this school district. Now, as I leave this podium to my good friend, I have to say that schoolteachers and others who are cut off from any form of health care, individuals who are on dialysis, kidney issues, of course, if they have diabetes, they are shut off, doors locked, papers thrown out, no ability to give recommendations for teachers. What a dastardly circumstance.

I'm prayerful that I can go to the commissioner of education to ask for a pause so that these individuals can continue their health insurance, so that mothers and fathers can get their students in regular order into another school system and so that we can find common ground just out of our own humanity.

I am prayerful as I leave this podium that one America will commemorate its great holiday together on July 4, and that when we come back, this Congress will expeditiously move to restore an anchor in the name of John Lewis, who shed his blood on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, who has continued to be a peacemaker in this Congress, that we reauthorize this wonderful legislative initiative so that incidents like North Forest Independent School District and others that have fallen victim to now this nonenforceability of the Voting Rights Act can be restored and we come together as a great and wonderful Nation.

With that, I thank the gentleman for yielding.

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