Thursday, June 22, 2006

GOP reaches out to English-speaking Latinos

Republicans continue their effort to reach out to Latino voters.

WashPost reports:
GOP Rebellion Stops Voting Rights Act
Complaints Include Bilingual Ballots and Scope of Justice Dept. Role in South

House leaders abruptly canceled a vote to renew the 1965 Voting Rights Act yesterday after rank-and-file Republicans revolted over provisions that require bilingual ballots in many places and continued federal oversight of voting practices in Southern states.

The intensity of the complaints, raised in a closed meeting of GOP lawmakers, surprised Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and his lieutenants, who thought the path was clear to renew the act's key provisions for 25 years. The act is widely considered a civil rights landmark that helped thousands of African Americans gain access to the ballot box. Its renewal seemed assured when House and Senate Republican and Democratic leaders embraced it in a May 2 kickoff on the Capitol steps...

But nearly 80 House Republicans signed a letter by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) objecting to the Voting Rights Act's provisions that require state and local governments to print ballots in foreign languages -- or provide interpreters -- in precincts showing a need for such services. The requirement is a costly unfunded mandate for many counties and municipalities, the letter said, adding: "The multilingual ballot mandate encourages the linguistic division of our nation and contradicts the 'Melting Pot' ideal that has made us the most successful multi-ethnic nation on earth."
I'm happy to say that not one member of the Wisconsin delegation signed the letter, according to the list suplied by the loony ProEnglish Advocate.

Sensenbrenner defends bill, process

LA Times:
Part of the problem, according to some GOP congressional aides, was that the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), was unavailable to answer questions and allay concerns. In addition, they said, he consulted more often with his Senate counterparts than with members of his own party during deliberations over the bill.

In a statement issued later Wednesday, Sensenbrenner defended both the bill and the process. "Some members, whom I believe are misinformed, have expressed concerns about voting on this legislation now," he said.

Noting that the committee has held 12 hearings and amassed more than 12,000 pages of testimony, Sensenbrenner said the bill was one Republicans and Democrats could be "proud of because it ensures that when discriminatory practices of the past resurface, they are quickly put to rest. I hope the House leadership will bring [the bill] to the floor in the near future."

Sensenbrenner thinks opponents "keep moving the goal post," said an aide who asked not to be identified. Some of the issues being raised — such as bilingual ballots — first came up in committee, where efforts to change them were defeated, the aide said.


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