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January 20, 2014 12:24 PM Running Voting Rights Bill By the Boss

By Ed Kilgore

It’s appropriate on the MLK holiday to look again at where we are on the project of “fixing” the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to deal with the Supreme Court decision holding that the Section 4 formula for defining jurisdictions subject to automatic “preclearance” requirement was unconstitutional.

You may recall that Eric Cantor informally signed off on the “fix” bill once voter ID bills were taken out as a presumptive VRA violation (which also affects which states make the Section 4 “cut” and are not subject to preclearance, including most significantly Virginia). That’s not enough, it seems, to ensure that the bill will proceed with Republican leadership backing, per this report from The Hill’s Mike Lillis:

Cantor’s office said he’s still examining the proposal, would require states with five violations of federal voting laws over the last 15 years to get pre-clearance from Washington before altering their election procedures. All eyes will be on the majority leader’s response, which could be the make-or-break moment for the proposal’s chances this year….
Another factor determining GOP support might whether conservative and Tea Party groups weigh in on the bill. Heritage Action, among the most influential of those groups, is still examining the bill but will soon issue a verdict, spokesman Dan Holler said Friday.

Aha. We’ll soon know who the real boss is among House Republicans when it comes to voting rights. And we’ll also know if there’s really any interest in “rebranding” the GOP as something other than the ideological descendants of the Dixiecrats.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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