On June 16, 2021, Senator Manchin released a compromise memo to H.R. 1, For The People Act. The following is a response to this memo signed by a coalition of national civil rights and advocacy organizations.
As we commemorate the courageous work and sacrifices of the Freedom Riders of 1961, we know our responsibility is to build upon this strong foundation and legacy. Today, the fight for justice and progress continues as we work to protect equal and fair access to the ballot box for all voters. We are clear and consistent in our demand that Congress pass the For The People Act (H.R.1; S. 1) and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
More than 150 million voters turned out to vote in the 2020 elections. Since the House passed H.R. 1, it has received strong bipartisan support from voters across the country. People are demanding swift passage of this legislation without compromise. Instead, our demands have been met with weak legislative proposals, compromises and barriers. But freedom is non-negotiable. And we will not rest until justice is served.
Senator Manchin’s compromise fails to adequately address the more than 400 voter suppression measures that are being introduced across the country. This proposal also negates the years of work that thousands of voting rights advocates and policymakers have given to the creation of legislation accepted by voters across this country. Most damaging is its neglect of protections for formerly incarcerated and justice impacted voters; voters with disabilities; Black and all multi-marginalized voters. There has been no indication from Senator Manchin’s reported conversations with conservatives that he has been able to secure Republican support for any of the core elements of S1 which is disappointing to the many activists who are pushing for passage of the bill.
In 1963, at the March on Washington, Bayard Rustin demanded that Congress pass the Civil Rights law with no compromises, and in 2021 his tenacious spirit to move Black people into liberty remains.
Congress must meet this moment with the same courage and commitment exhibited by the Freedom Riders of 1961 and today. Our coalition is united in our pursuit of collective liberation. We demand that Congress listen to the majority of voters across this country and pass the For The People Act immediately.
The Daniel Initiative
Center for Disability Rights
Black Voters Matter Fund
Advancement Project National Office
Philip Randolph Institute
Community of Hope AME Church
Hip Hop Caucus
Metropolitan AME Church
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF)
National Council of Negro Women
National Organization for Women
Neighbors United for DC Statehood
NETWORK Advocates for Catholic Social Justice
Rise Up West Virginia
Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California
SPLC Action Fund
The Daniel Initiative S.E.T. Project
The Workers Circle
Transformative Justice Coalition