Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and eight others were arrested Thursday after they took part in a voting rights protest that illegally blocked the door of a Senate office building on Capitol Hill.
Johnson, 66, who has represented a majority-African American district east of Atlanta since 2007, tweeted that he was “protesting against Senate inaction on voting rights legislation & filibuster reform.
“In the spirit of my dear friend and mentor – the late Congressman John Lewis – I was getting in #goodtrouble,” Johnson added.
Earlier Thursday, Johnson joined other members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) at a rally outside the Supreme Court to urge the Senate to scrap its legislative filibuster, which requires 60 votes to pass most bills. Many Democrats say the change is needed to pass the For The People Act, which would mandate early voting and automatic voter registration nationwide, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which looks to restore protections from the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Following the rally — which included remarks by Democratic Reps. Jamaal Bowman of New York, Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, Troy Carter of Louisiana, Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, and Al Green of Texas in addition to Johnson — the protesters marched to the Hart Senate Office Building while chanting, “This is what democracy looks like.”
In a statement, US Capitol Police said they arrested two men and seven women in the atrium of the building after giving them three warnings to clear the doorway. Video posted online shows the demonstrators blocking a door while chanting “Hey, hey! Ho, ho! The filibuster has got to go!” and “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!”
Johnson is the second CBC member to be arrested during a voting rights protest in as many weeks. On July 15, CBC Chair Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) and eight others were also detained in the Hart Senate Office Building.
“We will not be turned around. We will keep walking. We will fight for freedom. We will fight for our right to vote!” Beatty tweeted after her arrest, attaching a photo of her linking arms with fellow protesters.
The For The People Act passed the House on a near-party-line vote in March, but was blocked by Senate Republicans using the filibuster. Republicans oppose the legislation, saying it would amount to an unconstitutional partisan takeover of the election system.
Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have publicly come out against ending the legislative filibuster, despite pressure from Democrats including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
“I have told them, ‘We have to get this done,’” Schumer said of Manchin and Sinema during an interview on SiriusXM’s “The Joe Madison Show” Thursday. “Everything should be on the table … we’re going to continue to push. We’re going to have hearings. We’re going to have votes until we get this done.”
“My position is that we can’t take anything off the table because voting rights are so important,” Schumer added.
President Biden himself has shown little enthusiasm for the idea, saying during an CNN town hall Wednesday night that such a radical step would “throw the entire Congress into chaos.”
With Post wires