WASHINGTON The Senate voted 98-0 to renew the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act for another quarter-century today, with Democrats joined in praising the once-controversial law by Republicans hoping to improve their party s election-year standing with minority voters.
The legislation, which now goes to President Bush for his signature, opened voting booths to millions of minorities after its passage at the height of the nation s civil rights struggle.
The Senate approved the legislation after Bush told the NAACP earlier in the day that he looked forward to signing it. The House passed the bill last week.
It s a lot easier to change a law than to change a human heart, Bush said. I understand that many African-Americans distrust my political party.
A centerpiece of the 1960s civil rights movement, the law ended poll taxes, literacy tests and other election devices that had been used for decades to keep blacks from voting.
The Voting Rights Act has worked. It has achieved its intended purpose, said Majority Leader Bill Frist, who timed the Senate s debate to occur while Bush made his first-ever address to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
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