Ryan To Black Caucus: I’m With You On Voting Rights–But I Can’t Do Anything

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February 4, 2016 11:23 a.m.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus said House Speaker Paul Ryan told them he backs a bill to restore portions of the Voting Rights Act gutted by the Supreme Court, but won’t bypass his committee chairman to bring it the floor for a vote, The Hill reported.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) told The Hill that Ryan had signaled support for the Voting Rights Amendment Act, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), at a meeting with the group of black lawmakers Wednesday.

“So somebody was saying, ‘Well, why don’t you go tell your committee chair to do it?’ ” Cleaver said. “And he said, … ‘Look, I can’t do that.'”

According to The Hill, Ryan does not want to step on the toes of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), whose committee has jurisdiction over the legislation. Goodlatte has said that what’s left of the Voting Rights Act is enough to protect the franchise and thus the bill is not necessary. Ryan, a former committee chairman himself, has expressed a commitment to a bottom-up approach to leadership that defers to committees on advancing legislation.

“He said, ‘I told my own conference I’m not going to do it, so I’m not going to come up here and tell you anything differently. … I want it to be the product of the committee,’ ” Cleaver recounted, according to The Hill.

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