“Dems Set Wheels In Motion On Revising Voting Rights Act”


TPMDC

By Brian Beutler

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The unusual nature of the Supreme Court’s decision to invalidate Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act has created a kind of limbo for conservatives in southern states who want to flood their legislatures with voter ID laws and other disenfranchising policies, and thrown into Congress’ lap an unexpected issue that will have enormous ramifications for the 2014 elections and beyond.

Where this all ends, nobody knows, but we’re beginning to see how it starts.

Congressional Democrats are already setting wheels in motion to fix the damage the Court did to the Voting Rights Act, but they’re prepared for a long and complex haul.

Because Democrats only control one chamber of Congress, they’re effectively confined to beginning the process in the Senate, which is why early statements from Senate Dems refer to action they plan to take, while House Dems are stuck pressing Republicans to take the issue seriously.

But that’s enough to sketch out a roadmap by which they might successfully re-establish pre-clearance standards under Voting Rights Act.

“As Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, I intend to take immediate action to ensure that we will have a strong and reconstituted Voting Rights Act that protects against racial discrimination in voting,” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said in a statement after the decision.

The initial hearings will begin after Congress returns from Fourth of July recess. But because of the complicated legal nature of the issue, a legislative fix will require a great deal of groundwork and careful drafting to assure it doesn’t run exceed Constitutional limits.

FULL  ARTICLE

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“Bipartisan group reaches deal on gun trafficking”


By Kasie Hunt, Political Reporter, NBC News

A bipartisan group of senators has reached a deal on a bill that would make it a federal crime to buy a gun for someone who isn’t legally allowed to own one.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy announced the agreement on the Senate floor Monday evening.

Illegal gun “straw” purchases, made by a buyer on behalf of someone who cannot pass a background check, are often not prosecuted under current law, usually because conducting such a sale yields such a weak penalty.

The new compromise legislation would make the consequences for both straw buyers and sellers far more serious  – to the tune of decades in jail.

“Instead of a slap on the wrist or treating this like a paperwork violation, these crimes under our bill would be punishable by up to 25 years in prison,” Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said.   FULL  ARTICLE

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