Sen. Raphael Warnock, Georgia’s first Black Senator, used his first floor speech on Capitol Hill to urge his colleagues to pass voting rights legislation.
Warnock, who is co-sponsoring the “For The People Act,” a sweeping elections reform bill that passed the House earlier this month, urged Congress to pass the voting bill as well as the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act in order to protect voting rights.
In his speech Wednesday afternoon, Rev. Warnock said that the country is witnessing “a massive and unabashed assault on voting rights, unlike anything we’ve ever seen since the Jim Crow era.”
He called the voter restriction bills that are making their way through the Georgia state legislature “Jim Crow in new clothes.”
Warnock spoke on the Republican efforts to limit Sunday voting in Georgia.
“I was honored on a few occasions to stand with our hero and my parishioner, John Lewis. I was his pastor, but I’m clear he was my mentor,” Warnock said. “On more than one occasion, we boarded buses together after Sunday church services as part of our ‘Souls to the Polls’ program encouraging the Ebenezer Church family and communities of faiths to participate in the democratic process.”
“Now, just a few months after Congressman Lewis’s death, there are those in the Georgia legislature, some who even dare to praise his name, that are now trying to get rid of Sunday ‘Souls to the polls,’ making it a crime for people who pray together to get on a bus together in order to vote together,” he said.
“Make no mistake, this is democracy in reverse. Rather than voters being able to pick the politicians, the politicians are trying to cherry-pick their voters. I say this cannot stand,” he added.
Warnock said the voting legislation is “bigger than the filibuster” and that “access to voting and preempting politicians’ efforts to restrict voting is so fundamental to our democracy that it is too important to be held hostage by a Senate rule.”
“It is a contradiction to say we must protect minority rights in the Senate, while refusing to protect minority rights in the society,” he said. “Colleagues, no Senate rule should overrule the integrity of our democracy, and we must find a way to pass voting rights whether we get rid of the filibuster or not.”
Watch his full speech below.