Whip Steny Hoyer on Renewing the Voting Rights Act

i'm very pleased to yield two minutes to the distinguished minority whip from maryland, my good friend, steny hoyer. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. hoyer: i thank the TimeCode: 10:41:03.2 gentleman for yielding. i rise in strong support of this bill and in opposition to the four amendments which i perceive to be weakening. in particular, i want to commend congressman watt, congressman sensenbrenner, the TimeCode: 10:41:17.8 chairman of the committee, and of course, the ranking member, mr. conyers, for the extraordinary work that they have done to come together on a bipartisan piece of legislation, re-authorizing key provisions of the voting rights act. let me add, too, the members of the congressional black caucus TimeCode: 10:41:34.6 and the hispanic caucus and the pacific caucus deserve our thanks for their instrumental work on this bill and on these issues. this legislation is a recognition that our democratic system is not perfect. while our nation has made TimeCode: 10:41:51.3 tremendous strides in its ongoing quest to guarantee the ideals of our constitution, the specter of discrimination still haunts us and our people. and thus, we, the members of this congress, have a special responsibility today to be TimeCode: 10:42:08.0 vigilant in perfecting and protecting the most fundamental expression of equality in any democracy, the right to vote. we must never forget our rights, though god-given, have been hard won. TimeCode: 10:42:24.1 brave american citizens have been subjected to intimidation, violence, and yes, even death to secure the rights that are theirs under the constitution. our colleague, congressman john lewis, is living testament to TimeCode: 10:42:40.1 that bravery. 41 years ago, john and his fellow marchers were brutally attacked when they simply tried to cross the edmund pettus bridge in selma, alabama, on their way to montgomery to register to do what every american believes is a TimeCode: 10:42:54.5 birthright, vote. the declaration of independence says that we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. that's what it says. TimeCode: 10:43:10.8 this legislation is about making it so. the people who walked across the edmund pettus bridge walked across bridges in millions of places. may i have an additional TimeCode: 10:43:25.5 minute. mr. hastings: i yield the gentleman an additional 45 seconds. mr. hoyer: the challenge still inspires us today. our nation did the right thing 41 years ago. it is important for us to do the right thing today. i urge my colleagues, vote for the underlying bipartisan bill TimeCode: 10:43:41.9 and against those amendments which were offered which will weaken our commitment. we must keep faith with the promise and requirements of our constitution. we must re-authorize these key provisions of the voting rights act. and i thank the gentleman for the time.