Sen. Doug Jones, the first Democrat to represent Alabama in the Senate in 25 years, urged his congressional colleagues to “put some teeth back” in the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, saying he believes Republican lawmakers across the country are working to suppress African-American votes.
“You have to look at the state legislatures, governors and members of Congress that are Republicans,” Jones said on “Face the Nation” Sunday. “For whatever reason they do not want African-Americans and other minorities to vote.”
“Rather than trying to get those votes, they seem to want to restrict those votes,” he added.
Last week, House and Senate Democrats introduced legislation to restore a provision of the Voting Rights Act struck down by the Supreme Court in the controversial Shelby County v. Holder ruling in 2013. That ruling required certain jurisdictions with a history of voter disenfranchisement to seek approval from the Justice Department before rolling out changes to their voting systems.
Although it is likely to secure passage in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, the proposal faces strong opposition in the Republican-controlled Senate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, has called the legislative effort a “power grab” by Democrats.
Jones, whosewas propelled in part by a surge in the turnout of African-American women, said expanding voting registrations and cracking down on the gerrymandering of congressional districts is imperative to maintaining a healthy and representative American democracy.
“We talk a good game about everybody having the right to vote and a duty to vote,” he said. “But at the end of the day we seem to be working to try to restrict that and that’s just wrong.”
Jones is the author of the new book “Bending Towards Justice: The Birmingham Church Bombing That Changed The Course Of Civil Rights.”
© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.