The Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019 (H.R. 4), passed by the House 228-127 on Dec. 6, would once again require states and localities with recent histories of voter discrimination to seek approval from the U.S. Department of Justice before making any changes in their election laws. The measure is a direct response to the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby v. Holder, which invalidated key provisions of the Voting Rights Act first passed in 1965 to address persistent and purposeful discrimination—through literacy tests, poll taxes, intimidation, threats, and violence—that curtailed political participation for millions of Americans.
In the absence of critical federal oversight, many states implemented laws that restricted voting in the 2016 and 2018 elections. What happens next is up to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has refused to take up more than 100 bills passed by the House, including the NEA-supported Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act, the Equality Act, the Raise the Wage Act, the Paycheck Fairness Act, and the Background Check Expansion Act.