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Kennedy Statement at Judiciary Meeting on Voting Rights Act

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Kennedy Statement at Judiciary Meeting on Voting Rights Act

"I commend Chairman Specter for calling this special session. It demonstrates his commitment to voting this bill out of committee and to the floor today or tomorrow. Chairman Specter announced yesterday that Majority Leader Frist is prepared to move the bill to the floor this week, so I hope we can vote this bill out today.

The Fifteenth Amendment gave everyone the right to vote, but it was not until we passed the Voting Rights Act in 1965 that the right started to become reality in many parts of the country. Because there was still work to do, we renewed the special provisions of the Act in 1970, 1975, and 1982. And in 1975, 1982 and 1992, we amended the Act to strengthen its guarantees.

Now after months of hearings in the House and Senate, we have built a strong record for a further extension. The record shows progress, but it also presents compelling evidence for the Act's renewal. It highlights both current acts of overt discrimination in voting and more subtle practices that have been used to block access to voting in recent years. The inescapable conclusion is that we must reauthorize the Act and we should do it now.

The amendments offered would weaken the Act's protections for this most fundamental of all our rights. I urge my colleagues to defeat these amendments and pass a clean bill."

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