House Democrats passed a voting rights act on Tuesday named after late Civil Rights leader Rep. John Lewis.
H.R. 4, known as the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, passed by a margin of 219-212 with all Republicans voting no and all present Democrats voting yes.
Democrat lawmakers quickly took to Twitter to celebrate the passage of the bill.
The Lewis bill outlines a new, expanded formula that the Department of Justice can use to identify discriminatory voting patterns in states and local jurisdictions. Those entities would then need to get DOJ approval before making further changes to elections. The bill also includes a provision designed to counter the summer’s Supreme Court ruling that made it harder to challenge potentially discriminatory voting changes.
A companion bill pushed by Democrats, known as the For the People Act, has stalled in the Senate amid Republican opposition and disagreement among Democrats about whether to change procedural rules in the evenly divided Senate to get it passed.
Democrats have argued that both bills are needed to safeguard access to the ballot. They emphasize that the update to the Voting Rights Act would not apply to many voting changes already made by the states. The For the People Act, on the other hand, would create minimum voting standards in the U.S., such as same-day and automatic voter registration, early voting and no-excuse absentee voting. The bill would also change various campaign finance and ethics laws.
Senate Democrats have pledged to take up that more expansive bill when they return next month as the first order of business, though it is unclear how they can maneuver around GOP opposition.
Republicans signaled they’ll try to stop the John Lewis Act much as they have the For the People Act. “This bill is a federal power grab and a gift to partisan, frivolous litigators who will use it to manipulate state laws and throw all federal elections into chaos, further undermining voter confidence in fair and accurate elections,” said Jason Snead, executive director of Honest Elections Project Action, a conservative advocacy group.
Associated Press contributed to this report.