House and Senate Committees Join Forces in Setting Stage for Voting Rights Act Renewal

Media 04.27.06

Washington – In an unusual bipartisan, bicameral move, today the House Judiciary Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee took an important step toward renewing key expiring protections in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA).

The chairman and ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, Representatives James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and John Conyers (D-MI), not only testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on evidence collected in House hearings that support the continued need for the Voting Rights Act, but also handed over the entire House record for inclusion in the Senate record.

“In the heightened partisan atmosphere of the 109th Congress, it is especially gratifying that our leaders are putting aside their political differences in favor of a bipartisan approach,” said Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. “It is an indication to us that both Republicans and Democrats recognize the seminal importance of the Voting Rights Act to all Americans.”

“The House Judiciary Committee has taken the lead in establishing a record that not only justifies reauthorizing the Act but also provides the findings of fact to withstand a constitutional challenge,” Henderson added.

Over the last year, the House Judiciary Committee has amassed a detailed record cataloging voting rights gains and challenges since the VRA was last renewed. They held 10 hearings on the expiring safeguards and heard from more than 50 expert witnesses, including former and current politicians, Justice Department officials, academics and voting rights advocates.

The combined record includes several sharply focused reports that describe in vivid detail the continuing need for the expiring protections, including:

  • A set of state reports that document voting rights enforcement in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Virginia commissioned by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund, through, a coalition of national and grassroots civil rights organizations working to renew and strengthen the Voting Rights Act. Four of these reports are available at and the rest will be released in May.

  • A detailed record of racial discrimination in voting since 1982 aptly titled: Protecting Minority Voters – the Voting Rights Act at work 1982-2005. This report was compiled by the Lawyers Committee on Civil Rights Under Law, through the National Commission on the Voting Rights Act. It is available at

  • A comprehensive and historic look at the continuing need for expiring protections in the Voting Rights Act was produced by the American Civil Liberties Union in its new report, The Case for Extending and Amending the Voting Rights Act Voting Rights Litigation, 1982-2006. It is available at