House passes Voting Rights Act renewal
Southern conservative efforts on amendments fail
WASHINGTON (AP) — The House voted Thursday to renew the 1965 Voting Rights Act, rejecting efforts by Southern conservatives to relax federal oversight of their states in a debate haunted by the ghosts of the civil rights movement.
The 390-33 vote sends the measure to the Senate. The act bans discrimination in voting, including through poll taxes and literacy tests, and requires some states, mostly in the South, to clear proposed changes in voting procedures with the Justice Department.
Southern conservatives had complained that the act punishes their states for racist voting histories they say they’ve overcome.
“By passing this rewrite of the Voting Rights Act, Congress is declaring from on high that states with voting problems 40 years ago can simply never be forgiven,” said Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, a Georgia Republican and one of several lawmakers pressing for changes to the law to ease its requirements on Southern states.