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“History is watching and the future is waiting to see if we are who we say we are”: Senator Reverend Warnock Urges His Colleagues to Protect Democracy, Begin Debate on Legislation Protecting the Sacred Right to Vote in Senate Floor Speech

Senator Reverend Warnock, Lawmakers Introduce New Legislation to Secure Integrity of Elections

***WATCH FULL VIDEO OF SENATOR WARNOCK’S FLOOR REMARKS HERE ***

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) took to the floor of the U.S. Senate to urge his colleagues to begin debate on federal voting rights legislation – to protect the foundation of nation’s democracy following a deluge of voter suppression bills proposed and enacted at the state level in Georgia and nationwide.

In his floor speech, which preceded an expected vote to begin debate on voting rights legislation, Senator Warnock reminded his colleagues of their duty to the American people to ensure that eligible voters are not squeezed out of their democracy, and that voters have confidence that their votes will count in deciding the direction of our country. Senator Warnock also pushed the Senate to include his Preventing Election Subversion Act legislation, introduced yesterday, in the amended voting rights legislation to address provisions in state-level efforts like Georgia’s SB 202 that would enable state politicians to overrule local election officials and subvert voters’ voices.

Watch full video of Senator Warnock’s floor remarks HERE.

Key Excerpts from Senator Warnock’s floor remarks:

“This issue—the issue of voting rights—is decidedly different. It is formative and foundational. It is the framework in which all of our other debates take place. For this issue is about the preservation and protection of the very thing we claim to be—a democracy, built on that sacred idea of one person, one vote.

“Let’s do our job. Resist the easy route, the temptation to hide behind Senate procedure, and let’s have a principled conversation in front of the American people about voting rights. Right here, right now. It is said that we are the most important deliberative body on the planet. Well, how derelict in our duty would we be if, in this defining moment, we refused to even have a debate about how best to preserve and protect that which is most precious: the democracy itself.

“That’s one reason we need to debate the legislation before us. I’m hoping to include a provision I introduced yesterday with some of my colleagues that will prevent politicians from being able to overrule local election officials, and therefore, subvert the voices of the people. This provision will also protect local election volunteers from harassment and intimidation.

“Right now across the nation, constitutional rights are being assaulted, and I fear that if we don’t act as a body in this moment, we will have crossed a dangerous Rubicon in our nation that will make it extremely difficult for the next generation to secure voting rights for every eligible American.

“This is not just another moment in another Congress. We should not think of this as rote or routine. This is a defining moment that calls upon us to speak, to debate, to act. After all, Congress represents the people, and it is the job of the Congress, as prescribed in Article 1, section 4, to ensure that the people are not squeezed out and locked out of their own democracy. This is not our house, this is the house of the people. We are stewards of that trust. We have to ensure that the voices of the people can be heard in their own house.

“Surely, some of my Republican friends believe—at the very least—that in this chamber, we should be able to debate about voting rights. After all, voting rights are preservative of all other rights. And what could be more hypocritical and cynical than invoking minority rights in the Senate as a pretext for preventing debate about how to preserve minority rights in the society?

“I believe in democracy, with all of my heart. I believe, it is the political enactment of a spiritual idea. That we are all children of God, that we have within us a spark of the divine, and therefore a right to help determine the country’s direction and our own destiny within it.

“I hope we can take a bipartisan vote to begin debate on this important piece of legislation because that’s what democracy is all about! History is watching and the future is waiting to see if we are who we say we are. The United State Senate—a serious-minded, deliberative body. The United States of America, a nation built on that simple yet sublime principle—one person, one vote.”

Full Transcript of U.S. Senator Reverend Warnock’s floor speech below:

“Mr. President—I rise today at a defining moment in our nation’s history, and at a time when I sincerely believe that what we do or fail to do will have long-lasting and far-reaching implications for the health, viability and vitality of the world’s greatest democracy.

“We debate many important issues in this chamber. But this issue—the issue of voting rights—is decidedly different. It is formative and foundational. It is the framework in which all of our other debates take place. For this issue is about the preservation and protection of the very thing we claim to be—a democracy, built on that sacred idea of one person, one vote.

“With all of the arguments taking place in our country right now, with all of the audits being ordered, and with all of the voting legislation being feverishly passed in states all across our country, clearly— ironically—there is agreement, albeit for different reasons, on the left and the right, that democracy itself is in danger. Folks on the left and the right believe that there is something broken and it needs to be fixed.

“And if that is indeed the case, what kind of Congress would we be, in the whole history of Congresses, if, seeing that discussion out there, we refused to even debate the matter in here? Who are we, and how are we to hide?

“And so, I rise, Mr. President, with what I think is a simple request of my colleagues. Let’s do our job. Resist the easy route, the temptation to hide behind Senate procedure, and let’s have a principled conversation in front of the American people about voting rights. Right here, right now. It is said that we are the most important deliberative body on the planet. Well, how derelict in our duty would we be if, in this defining moment, we refused to even have a debate about how best to preserve and protect that which is most precious: the democracy itself.

“In my maiden speech this past March, I made an urgent call upon this body to act to protect the right to vote, and I warned then that the cords of our democracy were dangerously frayed… It was not theoretical stuff for me – I hailed from Georgia.

“Frayed by unfounded conspiracy theories that led to an attack on this very chamber, and undermined by an onslaught of state-level proposals aimed at suppressing the vote.

“Since I gave that maiden speech, things have only gotten worse…

“When I spoke here in March, 250 voter suppression proposals had been introduced in 43 states – 250 proposals- —now its’s 389 proposals in 48 states…

“A violent assault on this Capitol now metastasizing in voter suppression proposals across the United States of America.

“Since I spoke here in March, Georgia and thirteen other states have enacted these voter suppression bills into law, fourteen in total.

“That’s fourteen states – and counting – where partisan actors, power hungry politicians have acted along partisan lines to make it harder—not easier—for eligible voters to cast a ballot, and guarantee that that ballot will actually count. In Georgia, after record voter turnout in a historic election, there is now a provision in SB202 that allows partisan actors at the state level to take over the board – take over the process at the local level as voters are casting their ballots. Imagine that. That same law also allows that any citizen can challenge the voting rights of an unlimited number of citizens, making it difficult to see how you could certify any election. Let’s not kid ourselves. In this chamber of all places, a few months after January 6. This is dangerous stuff.

“That’s one reason we need to debate the legislation before us. I’m hoping to include a provision I introduced yesterday with some of my colleagues that will prevent politicians from being able to overrule local election officials, and therefore, subvert the voices of the people. This provision will also protect local election volunteers from harassment and intimidation.

“Right now across the nation, constitutional rights are being assaulted, and I fear that if we don’t act as a body in this moment, we will have crossed a dangerous Rubicon in our nation that will make it extremely difficult for the next generation to secure voting rights for every eligible American.

“Mr. President, this is not just another moment in another Congress. We should not think of this as rote or routine. This is a defining moment that calls upon us to speak, to debate, to act. After all, Congress represents the people, and it is the job of the Congress, as prescribed in Article 1, section 4, to ensure that the people are not squeezed out and locked out of their own democracy. This is not our house, this is the house of the people. We are stewards of that trust. We have to ensure that the voices of the people can be heard in their own house.

“That’s why I’m urging my colleagues to begin debating on the voting rights legislation before us. That debate is happening right now out there, how could it not happen in here?

“Now, I know that some of my Republican friends are vowing to prevent this debate, to stop it before it begins. And we are not talking yet about passing the bill, to be very clear—we’re just talking about talking about it! And they don’t even want to do that. Really?!

“Surely, some of my Republican friends believe—at the very least—that in this chamber, we should be able to debate about voting rights. After all, voting rights are preservative of all other rights. And what could be more hypocritical and cynical than invoking minority rights in the Senate as a pretext for preventing debate about how to preserve minority rights in the society?

“Mr. President, I stand here as a proud American. I believe in democracy, with all of my heart. I believe, it is the political enactment of a spiritual idea. That we are all children of God, that we have within us a spark of the divine, and therefore a right to help determine the country’s direction and our own destiny within it.

“I believe in democracy. Government of the people, by the people, for the people. And, I believe that the blind spots in our public policy and the wrongs in our history are made right through the power of democracy. People of diverse perspectives helping us to see more fully and embrace more completely what it means to be a government of the people, by the people, for the people. It is how Black people finally gained their citizenship, women their suffrage and members of the LGBTQ community their dignity and equality under the law. Diverse perspectives and voices help us to see what we would not otherwise see. And, that is precisely what is being imperiled right now by all of these voter suppression bills. And by some in this chamber to forestall a necessary debate about voting rights at this defining moment in our history.

“Mr. President, who are we and how are we to hide at a moment like this? Why are some people hiding? To what end? For what purpose? At whose behest? And from whom are they hiding? The American people, the very people who sent us here in the first place?

“And so, I hope we can take a bipartisan vote to begin debate on this important piece of legislation because that’s what democracy is all about! History is watching and the future is waiting to see if we are who we say we are. The United State Senate—a serious-minded, deliberative body. The United States of America, a nation built on that simple yet sublime principle—one person, one vote.

“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”

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