When the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was one of the few Republicans to call for Congress to find a fix, saying "I'm hopeful Congress will put politics aside ... and find a responsible path forward that ensures that the sacred obligation of voting in this country remains protected." The question is, now that a bipartisan voting rights bill has been introduced in Congress, what will Cantor do? No one knows:
... he's given no indication how Congress should proceed or what he would support – a vague position that will be tested now that specific legislation has been introduced with the backing of several prominent Republicans.On the plus side as far as Cantor's political calculations go, his own state of Virginia wouldn't be required to get pre-clearance for changes in voting procedures—that requirement would only apply to Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Georgia. On the minus side, we are talking about a law making it more possible for black and brown people to vote in red states, including Latino-trending Texas.
Cantor's office said he's still examining the proposal, would require states with five violations of federal voting laws over the last 15 years to get pre-clearance from Washington before altering their election procedures. All eyes will be on the majority leader's response, which could be the make-or-break moment for the proposal's chances this year.
If Cantor is waiting to hear if far-right groups will penalize him for supporting voting rights, he shouldn't have to wait long—Heritage Action is expected to put out its marching orders soon. Either way, his indecision on whether to support the bill sure makes him a real profile in political courage.