Nancy Pelosi speaks in Austin about H.R. 1, combating voter suppression

U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi received a standing ovation in Austin Tuesday morning.

Prior to boarding a plane back to D.C., the Speaker along with Congressman Lloyd Doggett talked with Austinites about House Resolution 1, the "For The People Act of 2019."

Doggett calls it an expansion of voter rights.

"To remove the obstacles like purges to let people register right up through election day so that more people can feel their power and hold every one of their elected officials from whichever party they may come accountable to the people," Doggett said.

Former State Senator Wendy Davis was there.  She spoke with Fox 7 Austin about her support for HR 1.

"The measures that have been taking place for many years led by Republicans to silence the voices of people in Texas and across this country need to come to an end," Davis said.

According to the bill, HR 1 would reduce the influence of big money in politics and strengthen ethics rules for public servants.

At Tuesday's event there was discussion about Texas Secretary of State David Whitley's voter report released in January.

"The claim here in Texas that people were voting illegally when they weren't voting illegally...instead of focusing on the fact that we're a very low voter turnout state and we need to do more to get people to turn out," Doggett said.

Pelosi said this administration is trying to jeopardize who we are as nation by making citizenship a question on the census.

"I say to them sometimes: 'When you leave this earth and go to heaven and meet our founders, are you going to say to them 'I did everything in my power to suppress the vote?'  Because that is what you are doing,'" Pelosi said.  

Pelosi says HR 1 is a commitment to our constitution.  She said new-comers make America more American so: don't suppress their vote.  

She quoted President Ronald Reagan.

"The vital force of America's pre-imminence in the world is every new generation of immigrants who come to our country and when America fails to recognize that as our vital force, America will fail to be pre-imminent in the world," Pelosi said, quoting Reagan.

"There are so many ways to vote and if there really were significant barriers to voting  we wouldn't have seen massive turnout just 3 months ago," said Matt Mackowiak, Chairman of the Travis County Republican Party.  "I think this is probably more about Democrats trying to convince minority voters that Republicans are racist and less about actually solving the problem because I don't think the problem exists." 

Doggett and Pelosi are hoping the bill will pass through Congress this week.  Mackowiak says it will probably stop there.

"I don't think this bill will pass through the Republican-majority U.S. Senate.  It will be a messaging bill for the Democrats it's not going to be law and I don't know that it's anything President Trump will sign into law anyway so the hurdles are significant for a bill like this," Mackowiak said.

Congressman Doggett says having Speaker Pelosi here in Austin is a recognition that Texas is "ground zero" for voter suppression and he says they're going to turn that around.