WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Senate Democrats are calling on majority Republicans to consider and vote on a voter protection bill to honor late Rep. John Lewis.
Lewis, a civil rights icon from Alabama who died recently after a battle with cancer, fought to restore the 1965 Voting Rights Act up until his last day in Congress.
“He risked his life for the right of every man and woman in America to vote and to have a voice in our democracy,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill, said of Lewis on the Senate floor.
In December, Lewis helped pass a bill through the House to restore voter protections that were stripped away under a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision. Democrats now say Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., should call a vote on the measure, now named in Lewis’ honor.
“They need to step up,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said. “We want to make sure the full Voting Rights Act is restored.”
Both Democrats and Republicans have gone to pay their respects to Lewis as he lies in state at the U.S. Capitol. But Democrats say without action, Republican tributes are merely lip service.
“Words of praise for John Lewis are fine but they’re not enough,” Durbin said.
While he praised Lewis’ for his contributions the civil rights movement, McConnell isn’t making any moves to bring the bill to the floor.
“There is no purpose for the legislation,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said, calling it government overreach. “I do not want to transfer all that voting power and the laws that govern voting to Washington, D.C.”
He said he would support sending more money to states to expand mail-in voting.