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VIDEO: Kaine Delivers Floor Speech During Debate on Voting Rights Legislation: 'The Time to Act Is Now’

For video of Kaine’s remarks, click here

WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a former civil rights attorney, spoke on the Senate floor during the Senate debate on voting rights legislation. During his speech, Kaine pushed for passage of the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act following attempts to restrict voting rights in certain states across the country.

Senator Kaine spoke on the floor after Senator Cornyn, who holds President Lyndon B. Johnson’s seat in the Senate. Kaine talked about President Johnson’s work to help usher through the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Kaine also noted that he holds the Senate seat previously held by Harry Byrd Sr. and Harry Byrd Jr., who were known for opposing school integration and using the filibuster to block civil rights legislation. He said during his remarks, “I stand to follow the Senator who holds LBJ’s seat, as the Senator from the Byrd seat, to today argue that the time has come for us to protect voting rights. I'm just happy to be on the floor talking about a bill. I mean, for gosh's sake, we've been able to talk about voting rights in morning hour. Mr. Leader, I've been here since January 2013. This is the first time since then that we've been able to get a bill on the floor to talk about voting rights.”

When discussing Congress’ role in protecting voting rights, Kaine said, “Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations. At any time. If not after the Supreme Court cuts the heart out of the Voting Rights Act, when? If not after an avalanche of state legislation carving back voting rights, when? If not after a violent attack unprecedented in the history of this country on the Capitol of the United States to disenfranchise 80 million people and disrupt the peaceful transfer of power, when? If not after subsequent ‘Big Lies’ leading to action in state legislatures all over this country, when? We may act to protect federal elections at any time. We are here for such a time, and the time to act is now.”

Kaine has long fought to protect voting rights and expand access to the ballot box.

In September 2021, Kaine introduced the Freedom to Vote Act to improve access to the ballot for Americans, advance commonsense election integrity reforms, and protect our democracy from attacks. The Freedom to Vote Act contains provisions expanding voting by mail, early voting, and taking other steps to make voting easier and safer.

Kaine is also an original cosponsor of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, introduced in October 2021. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore safeguards against potential restrictive changes to voting rules after the Supreme Court gutted those protections in its Shelby County decision in 2013.