House Passes Historic Anti-Corruption and Democracy Reform Legislation
WASHINGTON, DC- Today, after Committee on House Administration Chairperson Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) managed floor debate for three days, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, the For the People Act, a sweeping reform bill to clean up corruption in Washington, make it easier to vote, and give every day Americans more power in our democracy by a 234 – 193 vote.
Lofgren delivered the following remarks in closing floor debate on H.R. 1 today:
“For eight years, this chamber has been silent. A silence that harmed people. We’ve allowed measures to reduce people’s access to the vote. Measures that caused the Fourth Circuit to find that African Americans voters were “targeted with surgical precision,”—measures that excluded voters on Indian reservations and that wrongfully tried to remove 95,000 naturalized Texans should be removed from the rolls.
“Today, that silence ends.
“This bill is not for its own sake.
“A member of the U.S. Senate said that H.R. 1 is a power grab – he’s right. It grabs power away from the special interests, the elites, the one percent – and gives it to the American people. I tell you plainly what it does: automatic voter registration to allow 50 million eligible citizens to vote, prohibits deceptive practices, increases access to the polls for voters with disabilities, helps states replace outdated voting machines and requires disclosure of dark money donors—not limiting their speech but simply asking them to stand by it.
“These reforms are not difficult. But they will require courage to make.
“Mr. Frederick Douglass who saw what our democracy was, and what our democracy could be, and said: “Where all is plain, there is nothing to be argued.”
“For that reason, I do not argue. But I look forward to joining you all in doing the will of the people and supporting this bill.”
Lofgren’s amendments were key in establishing and financing the Freedom from Influence Fund, a voluntary small-donor campaign finance matching system which amplifies the power of small-dollar contributions and limits the influence of big donors.
Her amendments specified all funding for the Freedom from Influence Fund will originate from a 2.75% assessment on federal fines, penalties, and settlements on bad actors like wealthy tax cheats and corporate lawbreakers who have committed financial crimes.
Earlier this morning on the steps of the House of Representatives, Lofgren highlighted the open, transparent, and deliberative manning in which House Democrats brought H.R. 1 to the House floor for a vote.
On Wednesday, Lofgren opened debate on H.R. 1. Click here to view her floor statement.
H.R. 1 makes critical reforms across three key areas:
- Voting Rights
- Improve Access – H.R. 1 expands access to the ballot box by taking aim at key institutional barriers to voting, such as burdensome registration systems, limited voting hours and many other roadblocks. H.R. 1 creates automatic voter registration across the country, ensures that individuals who have completed felony sentences have their full rights restored, expands voting by mail and early voting and modernizes the U.S. voting system.
- Promote Integrity – H.R. 1 fights back against Republicans’ assault on voting rights by committing Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act; prohibiting voter roll purges like those seen in Ohio, Georgia and elsewhere; and ensuring that discriminatory voter ID laws do not prevent Americans citizens from exercising their rights. H.R. 1 also ends partisan gerrymandering to prevent politicians from picking their voters and lets American voters instead choose their elected officials.
- Ensure Security – H.R. 1 promises that American elections to be decided by American voters without interference from foreign entities. The bill enhances federal support for voting system security, particularly paper ballots, and increases oversight over election vendors.
- Campaign Finance
- Guarantee Disclosure – H.R. 1 shines a light on dark money in politics by requiring any organization involved in political activity to disclose its large donors, which will break the nesting-doll system that allows big-money contributors and special interests to hide their spending in networks of so called “social welfare” organizations.
- Empower Citizens – H.R. 1 levels the political playing field for everyday Americans, empowering individuals with a multiple matching system for small donations and allowing the American people to exercise their due influence in a post-Citizens United world, while reaffirming that Congress should have the authority to regulate money in politics. The new system of citizen-owned elections will break special interests’ stranglehold on politics and enable Congress to advance an agenda that serves the American people.
- Strengthen Oversight – H.R. 1 ensures that there are cops on the campaign finance beat that will enforce the laws already on the books. H.R. 1 tightens rules on super PACs and restructures the Federal Election Commission to break the gridlock and enhance its enforcement mechanisms. It also repeals Mitch McConnell’s riders that prevent government agencies from requiring commonsense disclosure of political spending.
- Ethics and Accountability
- Fortify Ethics Law – H.R. 1 breaks the influence economy in Washington and increases accountability by expanding conflict of interest law and divestment requirements, slowing the revolving door, preventing Members of Congress from serving on corporate boards and requiring presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns.
- Impose Greater Ethics Enforcement – H.R. 1 gives teeth to federal ethics oversight by overhauling the Office of Government Ethics, closing registration loopholes for lobbyists and foreign agents, ensuring watchdogs have sufficient resources to enforce the law and creating a code of ethics for the Supreme Court.
# # #