Texas Lawmaker Gives Black Caucus Response To State Of The Union Address, As State Primary Results Emerge

Democratic congressman and CBC member Colin Allred urged the Biden Administration to protect voting rights, on the same night that Beto O’Rourke won the party’s nomination for governor.

In response to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address, Texas Democratic congressman Colin Allred urged the White House to pass important voting rights legislation as that state deals with its first primary election after state lawmakers passed legislation that critics say hinders the ability to cast ballots.

“As a former voting rights attorney, I’ve never seen anything like what we’re seeing now,” said Allred, who was giving the Congressional Black Caucus response to Biden’s speech, which took place Tuesday night (Mar. 1). “The blatant attacks on Americans’ right to vote.”

In September, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law a bill that tightens local control of elections that impedes the ability of counties to expand voting options. That bill, SB1, went into effect just in time for the primary. It is so far unclear if fewer voters, particularly African Americans, were able to vote because of the legislation. But it and many like it in various states are why Democratic politicians want to pass federal legislation that protects voting rights which has stalled in the senate.

“Voting should be easy and accessible for every eligible voter, period,” said Allred. “That’s why the senate must pass the Freedom To Vote: John R. Lewis Act. This bill will establish national standards around voting by mail, early voting and voter registration, end partisan and racial gerrymandering and ensure that every vote cast is actually counted.”

Allred also states the CBC’s support for the Ukrainian people as the Eastern European nation continues to defend itself from the Russian invasion, now a week old. “As African Americans, we know implicitly that you cannot take freedoms for granted,” he said, “and that democracy is precious, and it’s worth fighting for.”

He noted that while the American Rescue Plan triggered a major drop in U.S. unemployment, the Black unemployment rate remains at 6.9 percent. “We can’t allow this glaring inequity to continue. We know the structural forces of inequality are not going to be erased overnight, but I remain optimistic about our future and I know that President Biden and Vice President Harris have our backs.”

He went on to praise the CBC for its role in aiding passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which he says will benefit communities of color through fostering investments in them. “The Black Caucus was instrumental in getting this done,” said Allred. “Our chairwoman Congresswoman Joyce Beatty deserves tremendous credit for her incredible leadership in getting this bill signed into law.”

OPINION: Texas Heads To The Polls In Primary But Voting Rights Are Under Attack

In the Texas primary, on the Democratic side Beto O’Rourke won the nomination for governor. In November, he will take on Abbott, who won the Republican nomination, defeating challenger Allen West, the Austin American-Statesman reports. In the Democratic results for state attorney general, civil rights lawyer Lee Merritt lost his bid for the seat to former ACLU attorney Rochelle Garza. Also, on Wednesday morning, Jrmar Jefferson led the field in the District 1 primary at 45 percent with more than 90 percent of the vote counted, according to the American-Statesman.

As the state progresses toward the November general election, which could have national implication because of how broadly influential Texas politics are, Allred says that everyone owes it to the Civil Rights heroes of history to protect the right to vote.

“We cannot let the efforts go to waste of the giants who came before us,” said Allred, “who bled on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, who endured harassment and attacks and who dared against all odds to fight for the right to vote that we now enjoy.”

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