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House Passes Landmark Voting Rights and Police Reform Bills 

HeadlineMar 04, 2021

The House of Representatives has approved sweeping legislation protecting the right to vote. The For the People Act, also known as House Resolution 1, is the most comprehensive voting bill since the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It would curb partisan gerrymandering, provide automatic and Election Day registration, allow for two weeks of early voting and no-excuse absentee voting, and it would provide publicly financed matching funds for congressional and presidential candidates.

An amendment by Massachusetts Democratic Congressmember Ayanna Pressley to lower the voting age to 16 failed on the House floor. Another amendment to end the disenfranchisement of people who are incarcerated failed after 119 Democrats joined Republicans to defeat it. Missouri Democrat Cori Bush sponsored the amendment.

Rep. Cori Bush: “Right now more than 5 million people are legally barred from participating in our elections as a result of criminal laws. That is one in 44 Americans, 500,000 Latinx Americans, 1.2 million women and one in six Black folks. This cannot continue. Disenfranchising our own citizens, it is not justice.”

House Resolution 1 does grant people with felony convictions the right to vote after they have completed the terms of their prison sentences.

Also on Wednesday, the House passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. The legislation would ban police chokeholds and eliminate qualified immunity for officers. It also seeks to ban racial and religious profiling and certain no-knock raids and would set up a national database to track police misconduct. Both bills now head to the Senate, where they’ll need 60 votes to clear the threat of a Republican filibuster.

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