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 -- (House of Representatives - July 13, 2006)
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Mr. BACA. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to H. Res. 910, the rule for the Voting Rights Reauthorization.
I rise in opposition to this rule because it allows the Voting Rights Act to be weakened by amendments that would strip important provisions from the bill.
Democrats and Republicans passed a Voting Rights Act Reauthorization that strengthens and extends the Act's legacy for our future generations out of the Judiciary committee.
Democrats and Republicans recognize that this Act is relevant to the situations of millions of Americans.
In my district, the Inland Empire, a third of the residents don't speak English as their primary language.
In my personal experience, my father, who was born, raised, worked and raised a family in America, did not speak English well--yet he deserved, as all Americans do, the right to vote.
We must renew the Voting Rights Act--we must not allow these provisions to expire and thus disenfranchise hard-working Americans who want to do their civic duty.
If America is to remain the democracy that has made it strong, all voters must have the opportunity to cast a ballot they can understand.
But the King amendment allowed under this rule strikes the sections re-authorizing the Section 203 bilingual ballot requirements.
Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act has made our Nation's democratic ideals a reality by ensuring that eligible voters, regardless of language ability, may participate on a fair and equal basis in elections.
Three-quarters of those who are covered by the language assistance provision are native-born United States citizens. The rest are naturalized U.S. citizens.
It is well documented that language assistance is needed and used by voters.
For instance, the U.S. Department of Justice has reported that in one year, registration rates among Spanish- and Filipino-speaking American citizens grew by 21 percent and registration among Vietnamese-speaking American citizens increased over 37 percent after San Diego County started providing language assistance.
In Apache County, Arizona, the Department's enforcement activities have resulted in a 26-percent increase in Native American turnout in 4 years, allowing Navajo Code talkers, veterans, and the elderly to participate in elections for the first time.
This amendment would effectively disenfranchise language minority voters through the appropriation process.
Section 203 has always received bipartisan support from both Democrats and Republicans in Congress and the White House.
Section 203 of the VRA requires that U.S. minority citizens who have been subjected to a history of discrimination be provided language assistance to ensure that they can make informed choices at the polls.
It does not offer voting assistance to illegal or non-naturalized immigrants.
I urge my colleagues to oppose this rule and pass the strong and relevant Voting Rights Act that America needs.
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