As the Senate prepares to consider two voting rights bills Wednesday evening that seem unlikely to pass, supporters have already vowed not to give up, setting their sights on the next step.
Proponents of the legislation, including the family of civil rights pioneer Martin Luther King Jr., have been rallying for the past week throughout the Washington, D.C., area. More than two dozen protesters were arrested on the steps of the Capitol Tuesday.
Though the Senate is poised to kill the House-approved bills, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) is among those continuing their efforts for legislation. She points towards the upcoming midterm congressional election as a motivator.
“When they see us fighting, we will be in a much better position to keep our seats in house and to keep the country from giving up on voting rights. If we sit and do nothing because we’re going to lose, then everybody loses," the D.C. delegate said.
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As neighboring Virginia debates various voting rights bills of its own, Norton agrees that the next battle ground for voting rights will be at the state level. She wants the District to be a part of those debates, as she pushes to make D.C. the 51st state.
“The more we link ourselves here in the District to the overall struggle for voting rights, the better we will be in getting HR51 passed,” she said.
Local faith leaders like Rev. William H. Lamar IV, pastor of the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, are also pushing for the legislation. He believes the issue is just as much a local fight as it is a national one.
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“What we have to do is engage in a multi-prong fight that is local, that is state - and D.C., of course, needs to be a state - and that is national,” the pastor said. "A people not able to vote are people disconnected from the realities that shape their lives. And that ought not be so in a place that claims democratic values."