By Alan Silverleib, CNN Congressional Producer
Washington (CNN) - The first congressional votes were cast on Thursday on the politically explosive issue of immigration reform.
Members of the Democratic-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee started formal consideration of a massive bipartisan bill, debating and voting on the first of more than 300 proposed amendments.
The contentious issue of border security was quickly raised in the form of a proposed "trigger" amendment from Iowa's Chuck Grassley - the top Republican on the panel. It would block the legalization of any undocumented residents until law enforcement established "effective" control of the entire U.S.-Mexico border for six months.
Grassley's proposal failed, with 12 of the panel's 18 members voting no. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake - two Republicans from the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" group that crafted the overall bill - joined committee Democrats in opposing the measure.
The four Democrats and four Republicans comprising the "Gang of Eight" have pledged to oppose any substantial changes to the legislation.
Editor's note: Cornell Belcher, a CNN contributor, was the Democratic National Committee's pollster under Chairman Howard Dean in 2005 and worked on the 2008 and 2012 Obama campaigns. Follow him on Twitter: @cornellbelcher.
By Cornell Belcher, CNN Contributor
(CNN) - "But if we know enough to be hung, we know enough to vote. If the Negro knows enough to pay taxes to support the government, he knows enough to vote; taxation and representation should go together. If he knows enough to shoulder a musket and fight for the flag, fight for the government, he knows enough to vote ... "
– Frederick Douglass ("What the Black Man Wants," 1865)
Yet another milestone of great American historical importance has come to pass with embarrassingly little tribute. And much like the election of President Barack Obama, many of us also thought we would never live to see this racial ceiling broken.
But unlike the election and re-election of the first black president, the media has paid remarkably little notice to news that might well have more impact on the political trajectory of this country over the next decade than the election of a single president.
According to a new Census Bureau report, "In 2012, blacks voted at a higher rate (66.2%) than non-Hispanic whites (64.1%) for the first time since the Census Bureau started publishing voting rates by the eligible citizenship population in 1996."
Now, given the innumerable battles to secure this most important right of democracy - from the blood-soaked battlefields of the Civil War to the halls of Congress and courts, to the strife-torn streets of the Civil Rights era - few things in our collective political history has borne so heavy a toll on our democracy as the enfranchisement of the African-American.
That the group for which so many hurdles have been thrown upon to block the vote has for the first time become the group most likely to vote is something like a big deal.
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – A new Census Bureau report shows a higher percentage of African-Americans than whites voted in a presidential election for the first time in history last year during the matchup between President Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney.
The report, released Wednesday, found that more than 66% of eligible blacks voted in the presidential contest. Only 64.1% of whites turned out to vote.
This marks the first time since 1968 that blacks turned out at a higher rate the whites.
In addition to blacks turning out at a higher rate, the number of Asian and Hispanic voters grew from 2008 to 2012. Hispanics added 1.4 million people and Asians added over 500,000. Between 1996 and 2012, blacks, Asians and Hispanics all saw their percentage of the voting population increase.
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at email@example.com.
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