How Members of Congress Voted on Our Civil and Human Rights Priorities in 2021
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights has issued a Voting Record for every Congress since 1969 to be a tool for public education and to help readers understand the records of their elected officials on key civil and human rights issues. Crucially, our Voting Record is neither an endorsement nor condemnation of any member of Congress and represents just a sample of votes taken.
In this Voting Record, we examined 22 House of Representatives and 43 Senate votes taken by lawmakers from January 2021 through December 2021. Our scores address civil rights issues including the census, voting rights, economic security, education, workers’ rights, health care access, immigration, key judicial and executive branch nominations, and more. Overall, 224 House members and 50 senators supported our positions on 90 percent or more of the votes included in the report.
In many ways, the votes taken by representatives and senators looked very different: While the House passed a slew of civil and human rights bills, more than 70 percent of the votes we scored in the Senate were taken on the confirmation of executive (15) and judicial (16) nominees — including civil rights champions Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke to key positions at the Department of Justice and Myrna Pérez to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Just 10 of the votes — relating to five bills — were final passage votes on legislation that was ultimately signed into law. Those five measures included the American Rescue Plan Act, the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and two Congressional Review Act resolutions that undid Trump-era regulations.
As the Senate in 2021 worked to confirm qualified and diverse nominees to important positions in the executive branch and on our federal courts, Republicans used Senate procedures to block the consideration of voting rights and other legislation passed by the House. By the end of the year, more than a dozen civil rights bills passed by the House remained languishing in the upper chamber:
- February 25: Equality Act
- March 3: For the People Act
- March 9: Protecting the Right to Organize Act
- March 17: Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act
- March 18: Dream and Promise Act
- March 18: Farm Workforce Modernization Act
- April 15: Paycheck Fairness Act
- April 21: NO BAN Act
- April 22: Washington, D.C. Admission Act
- May 14: Pregnant Workers Fairness Act
- June 23: Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act
- August 24: John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act
- September 24: Women’s Health Protection Act
- September 28: EQUAL Act
- November 19: Build Back Better Act
Some of this legislation is already bipartisan and should come up for a vote in the Senate in 2022. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, for example, passed the House by a vote of 315-100, with 99 House Republicans voting for the measure. In August, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee advanced the bill by a vote of 19-2, and it now awaits a vote by the full Senate.
At the end of the first session of the 117th Congress, many priorities of our civil and human rights coalition — from voting rights to justice reform to economic security — remain incomplete. We will continue to fight until all of our priorities are a reality because this is how we create a more just society.
To see how your members of Congress scored, view our Voting Record for the first session of the 117th Congress here.