WASHINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) - Texas Democrats in Congress and the state legislature again urged the U.S. Senate to approve a federal elections bill.
The legislation is called the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and is named after the civil rights leader and Congressman who died last year.
The U.S. House passed the measure in August in a very close, party-line vote.
During a virtual news conference Tuesday, State Representative Chris Turner of Grand Prairie, who also serves as the Chair of the House Democratic Caucus said, "We're calling upon the U..S. Senate to take immediate action to pass this very important bill and get it to President Biden."
The John Lewis Voting Rights bill would require states like Texas, that have a history of voting rights violations during the past 25 years, to get approval from the U.S. Justice Department before making changes to election rules and political maps for redistricting.
State House Democrats, who broke a legislative quorum this summer to block the Texas elections integrity bill, say the federal bill is necessary because Texas Republicans' newly approved political maps for the next ten years violate federal law.
State Representative Nicole Collier, D-Fort Worth, who serves as the Chair of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus said, "A state that experiences 95% of its growth from Blacks, Hispanics, and Asian-Americans seems to me would have an increase in representation, but we didn't see that."
U.S. Representative Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth agreed. "Whether it's redistricting, whether it's these laws, we need to have fair and equal representation so we're not subject to the whims of political priorities of any party."
Last week, U.S. Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas was among the Senate Republicans who blocked a similar federal elections bill.
On the Senate floor, he said the Congressional Democrats' bills would interfere with the states' rights to run their own elections and would favor Democrats. "The Constitution itself gives states the powers to determine how their elections should be run and states are using that authority to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat. Our Democratic friends believe the only answer to this manufactured assault is an unconstitutional partisan power grab that they've been pushing for years."
U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin disagreed when asked about Senator Cornyn's remarks. "There's nothing unconstitutional about it. Indeed, it's so consistent with the very ideas of the founding of our country that democracy gains when more people participate."
A vote has not been set yet in the Senate, but could come as early as this week.
Passing the measure in the Senate would first require 60 votes to discuss it, and the votes aren't there yet.
During the news conference, Doggett called on President Joe Biden to put pressure on Senators to change the requirement to debate the bill. "We need the President to fully engage with those Senators who've been resisting making an exception."
Discussion about the legislation comes as Texas' new political maps, signed by Governor Greg Abbott Monday, are attracting an increasing number of legal challenges.
for more features.