WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, issued the following statement on the anniversary of the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol:
“One year ago today, America experienced the deadliest and most destructive attack on the United States Capitol since the War of 1812. Members of Congress, staff, and press endured terrifying hours as rioters ransacked the halls and attacked Capitol Police officers in an attempt to overthrow the election. The 700,000 residents of D.C. sheltered in their homes in fear that this violence would spill onto the streets and visit members of their communities. The events of that day brutally shattered the illusion that our democracy, and the building that performs its functions, could not be breached.
“January 6 was the most visible day of violence — but in reality, the events that led to the insurrection began long before former President Trump encouraged rioters to march on the Capitol. For years, Republicans in state legislatures, courts, and Congress have engaged in a more covert attack, chipping away at free and fair elections and taking direct aim at Americans’ constitutional rights and our democracy.
“Since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, state legislatures have enacted hundreds of laws designed to reduce the political power of communities of color, young people, the elderly, people with disabilities. The racist voter suppression that the justices claimed was a relic of the past came roaring back with a vengeance, such that 2021 became the worst year for restrictive state voting laws in a decade; legislatures filed more than 440 bills and enacted laws in 19 states. At the same time, the Republican party pushed incendiary lies about voter fraud and Democrats stealing elections from the highest levels. It was on this tidal wave of anti-democratic activity and rhetoric that the January 6 rioters descended on Washington and attacked the Capitol. And the attack has continued since, with partisan actors driving unfounded election audits, violent threats on election officials, and the passage of laws explicitly allowing partisan interference with election results, in direct backlash to the 2020 election.
“That is why this anniversary calls not only for commemoration, but also for action — urgently. If Congress fails to pass legislation to secure the right to vote and protect Americans’ democratic freedoms, we invite these attacks to continue. We cannot allow Republicans’ lies or arcane Senate rules to stand in the way of Congress upholding its most basic constitutional responsibilities. We applaud Majority Leader Schumer for his determination in pushing voting rights restoration forward in the upper chamber, and Progressives are committed to doing whatever it takes to ensure he succeeds. The most basic promise of American democracy is that every person’s voice must be heard and vote counted. We cannot fail.”