- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Reeling from midterm elections that left them with a weak hand, House Democrats unveiled a task force Wednesday aimed at driving minorities and the rest of its base back to the polls.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, and nine party allies pegged the effort to the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, a landmark product of the civil rights movement that banned racial discrimination at the polls.

They’ll push Republicans to update the law, as they’ve done in that past, and tout legislation to “equal the playing field” between wealthy interests and traditionally disenfranchised groups.

“We want to do something to get voters engaged in the process again,” said Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn, the South Carolina Democrat who will head the task force.

In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down the key Voting Rights Act test that decides which states and localities have to subject their voter laws to federal “preclearance.”

Mr. Clyburn said the justices instructed Congress to update the rules, not scrap them, and he hopes Republican allies will revive bipartisan efforts to do just that.

The party’s emphasis on voting reform comes after sweeping losses in the November midterms. The GOP seized control of the Senate and strengthen its House majority, further weakening President Obama’s ability to carry out his agenda in his final two years.

Mrs. Pelosi rejected the idea of a “GOP wave” at the time, arguing voters had been discouraged by onerous election laws and Republican efforts to thwart Mr. Obama’s agenda.

“The connection between the vote and the rights of people is a very direct one,” she said Wednesday.

Republicans said Mr. Obama’s‘ failed agenda, and not voter-ID laws and court rulings in favor of free speech, are what kept liberal voters home.

President Obama pushed back this week by throwing his weight behind the Democratic focus on voting rights ahead of the 2016 presidential contest.

In his State of the Union address to Congress late Tuesday, he said the right to vote is “sacred.”

On Wednesday, he blasted the Supreme Court for its 2010 decision in “Citizens United” — a 5-to-4 ruling that struck down a ban on independent political spending by corporations, unions and other groups.

Ever since then, Mr. Obama said, “dark money floods our airwaves with more and more political ads that pull our politics into the gutter.”



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