Today during the last days of the 117th Congress, Senator Reverend Warnock sought to pass the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act by unanimous consent; the motion was blocked by Senate Republicans
Senator Reverend Warnock: “We must be very clear that there is more than one way to subvert an election and to silence the voices of the people […] I will never stop fighting to protect our democracy and the sacred right to vote”
***WATCH VIDEO OF SENATOR REVEREND WARNOCK’S REMARKS HERE***
Washington D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) took to the floor of the U.S. Senate in an effort to pass critical voting rights legislation in the final days of the 117th Congress. Senator Warnock asked for unanimous consent to pass the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act, which was blocked by Senate Republicans. The legislation, which Senator Warnock co-led, would restore bedrock voting protections that have been eroded by the U.S. Supreme Court, and ensure that all eligible voters have both access to the ballot and assurance their ballot will be counted. During his floor remarks, Senator Warnock made clear that efforts to pass the Electoral Count Reform Act, which he also supports, do not replace the need for the Senate to pass substantive legislative that will secure the right to vote for all eligible Georgians and Americans.
“We cannot in good conscience abhor election subversion in our presidential elections while at the same time turning a blind eye when the voices of voters are suppressed and subverted on a local and state level. It is a contradiction that I cannot abide,” said Senator Warnock. “I will never stop fighting to protect our democracy and the sacred right to vote,” he added.
Read full transcript of Senator Reverend Warnock’s floor remarks below:
“Thank you, Mr. President. As we work in these remaining days of the 117th Congress, I rise today to ask the chamber to take needed action on a critical priority before we close out this Congress.
“For all that we’ve achieved this session, much of it on a bipartisan basis, I would argue that our inability to move—or our failure to move—on this critical issue is a moral failure on our watch. A failure to get done that which is most basic to who we are, a democracy, to vigorously defend the right to vote.
“Yesterday, our colleagues in the House of Representatives presented their final findings regarding the tragic attack on our United States Capitol on January 6th, 2021. I commend their work and dedication on this issue to help ensure that something like January 6th, a day that almost broke our democracy, never happens again.
“Mr. President, I believe in democracy. In fact, as a man of faith, I believe that democracy is the political enactment of a spiritual idea—this notion that each of us has within us a spark of the divine, and therefore we ought to have a voice—a vote in the direction of our country, and our destiny within it.
“In this government funding legislation we’re working to pass, the Senate is preparing to take action toward the same aim of protecting our democracy—to prevent future subversion in our presidential elections—by passing the Electoral Count Reform Act.
“I commend my colleagues for their bipartisan work that will clarify the role of the Vice President in certifying our presidential elections, strengthening our ability to ensure a peaceful transfer of power. That’s part of what makes us America.
“And I look forward to voting in favor of the legislation, along with the rest of the government funding bill which will send critical federal investments, investments I fought for, that will help people in every corner of my home state of Georgia.
“But Mr. President, we must be very clear that there is more than one way to subvert an election and to silence the voices of the people.
“And while the Senate takes action to protect presidential elections and the integrity of the Electoral College, in Georgia right now, during our most recent election, we had to sue officials of the state of Georgia just to allow people to vote on the Saturday that began the runoff period.
“Voters waited in long lines, lines that would have been even longer had I not sued the officials of the state of Georgia. People stood in line for hours, and hours, and hours in the cold and in the rain to cast their ballots. Now some folks might be fine with that, but I’m not.
“You can have a right to the vote and yet be denied access. Georgia voters decided that their voices would not be silenced. They did show up in record numbers, thank God. But that does not mean that voter suppression does not exist. It just means that the people refused to have their voices silenced.
“We cannot in good conscience abhor election subversion in our presidential elections while at the same time turning a blind eye when the voices of voters are suppressed and subverted on a local and state level. It is a contradiction that I cannot abide.
“And so, while we do the important work today of passing the Electoral Count Reform Act, we must also pass the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act which will:
- One: restore bedrock voting protections established by the Voting Rights Act of 1965;
- Two: set a federal baseline for voting standards, to ensure every eligible voter has access to the ballot—no matter where they live, no matter their zip code;
- and, Three: we have to protect our elections from subversion by craven politicians.
“Voters should pick their representatives, not the other way around. It doesn’t matter if your votes are properly counted if you can barely cast your vote in the first place.
“The Electoral Count Reform Act, while important to pass, will not protect voters from long lines. It will not prevent efforts to sow confusion through mass challenges of voter registration. And it will not stop state politicians from trying to take over local election administration.
“I would encourage my colleagues to Google a county in Georgia—see what’s happened in recent history. Google ‘Quitman County.’ See what happened there just a few years ago, and you will see that our struggle continues.
“So as we prepare now to celebrate Dr. King next month, we must remember his words which are as true now as they were back then: ‘Justice delayed is justice denied.’
“And I will never stop fighting to protect our democracy and the sacred right to vote.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the chair lay before the Senate the message to accompany H.R. 5746, that the motion to concur in the House amendment to the Senate amendment to the bill be considered and agreed to, and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table.”
Title and affiliation are provided for identification purposes only. A pastor and social justice advocate, Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock was elected to the United States Senate in 2021 and serves on the Senate Agriculture, Banking, and Commerce committees, as well as the Joint Economic Committee and Senate Special Committee on Aging.