[JURIST] The US Senate voted Thursday to extend the Voting Rights Act (VRA) [text; DOJ backgrounder] Thursday by 25 years rather than allowing portions of it to expire. The bill [HR 9 summary; text, PDF] reauthorizing the VRA, which over the past four decades has helped to end election schemes that kept blacks from the polls, was approved by a vote of 98-0. Speaking [White House transcript] Thursday at the NAACP's annual convention, President Bush said he looked forward to signing the legislation and that he "consider[ed] it a tragedy that the [Republican] party of Abraham Lincoln let go of its historical ties with the African-American community." He added that, "For too long, my party wrote off the African-American vote, and many African-Americans wrote off the Republican Party."
The House of Representatives passed the renewal bill [JURIST report] last week by a vote of 390-33 after House GOP leaders had to withdraw it from the floor agenda in June because of opposition from a number of conservative Southern lawmakers. AP has more.