Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democratic representative of Texas, was arrested in Washington DC on Thursday while protesting lawmakers’ delay in passing legislation to protect voting rights, becoming the third member of the Congressional Black Caucus to be arrested for civil disobedience in recent weeks.
Jackson Lee was arrested while participating in a demonstration outside the Hart Senate office building.
“Any action that is a peaceful action of civil disobedience is worthy and more, to push all of us to do better,” Jackson said of her arrest in a video later posted to Twitter.
“Once again we see a Black woman at the forefront of defending our civil rights and leading the fight to save our fragile democracy,” said Odus Evbagharu, chair of the Harris county Democratic party, in a statement. “Congresswoman Lee understands we are at a pivotal moment in the history of our nation, where our sacred right to vote is under grave threat. She recognizes that we all must take action to protect this right.”
Representatives Joyce Beatty of Ohio and Hank Johnson of Georgia were also arrested this month for participating in voting rights demonstrations.
Jackson Lee’s arrest came after a House committee hearing with Democratic lawmakers from Texas, who recently staged a high profile walkout from the state legislature in order to prevent Republicans from passing restrictive new voting laws.
Texas is already one of the hardest places to vote in the US. Democrat in the state say the proposed laws would make it even harder and further disenfranchise Black and minority voters, by imposing ID requirements on mail-in ballots and banning 24-hour and drive-through voting.
Democrats are working on a revised voting rights bill, after Republicans blocked consideration of a more sweeping proposal last month. The proposed For the People Act failed in an evenly-split Senate along party lines.
Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia who voted to open debate on the For the People Act despite qualms about some provisions, has offered a scaled-back framework for voting rights legislation. Aspects of his proposal are likely to be incorporated into the Democrats’ revision.
But with Republicans opposed to most of the reforms Democrats want to see, it’s unclear how lawmakers will pass federal voting rights protection while the filibuster – the Senate’s 60-vote supermajority requirement – stands. Voting rights activists have urged Democrats to kill the filibuster and pass legislation quickly as Republicans around the country work to pass voting restrictions.