The text below is adapted from an email from US House Representative John Sarbanes, original Sponsor of H.R. 1. It is a ‘must read:’
On Friday, March 9, the U.S. House of Representatives made history by passing H.R. 1, the For the People Act — the most comprehensive, transformational suite of government reforms in more than 40 years. H.R. 1 is a major moment for our country. It aims to rebalance power in our nation’s capital and put everyday Americans back in charge of our democracy by cleaning up corruption in Washington, ending the dominance of big money in our politics and ensuring the right to vote.
Across the country, Americans of all political stripes feel left out and locked out of their own democracy. When the American people look at Washington, they see big money and special interests that have too much influence over the way policy gets made — and they want that to change. Every single page of this bill was designed to respect and empower the American people, and to make Washington more responsive to the needs and priorities of the public.
To see that for yourself, here’s a quick dive into the key provisions of H.R. 1.:
* * *
Clean and fair elections.
- Improve Access— H.R. 1 expands access to the ballot box by taking aim at institutional barriers to voting, such as patchwork and cumbersome registration systems, disenfranchisement and limited voting hours, which create major roadblocks to a more participatory democracy. H.R. 1 will create automatic voter registration across the country; ensure that individuals who have completed felony sentences have their full rights restored; expand early voting and simplify absentee voting; and modernize the U.S. voting system.
- Promote Integrity— H.R. 1 commits Congress to build the record necessary to restore the Voting Rights Act; prohibits voter roll purges like those seen in Ohio, Georgia and elsewhere; and ends partisan gerrymandering to prevent politicians from picking their voters.
- Ensure Security— H.R. 1 ensures that American elections are decided by American voters without interference by enhancing federal support for voting system security, particularly paper ballots, increasing oversight over election vendors, and requiring the development of a national strategy to protect U.S. democratic institutions.
End the dominance of big money in our politics.
- Guarantee Disclosure— H.R. 1 shines a light on dark money in politics by upgrading online political ad disclosure and requiring all organizations involved in political activity to disclose their large donors. H.R. 1 also breaks the so-called ‘nesting-doll’ sham that allows big-money contributors and special interests to hide the true funding source of their political spending.
- Empower Citizens— H.R. 1 gives political power to everyday Americans, creating a multiple matching system for small donations, thereby allowing the American people to exercise their due influence in our politics. This new 21st century system of citizen-owned elections will break special interests’ stranglehold on Congress and lay the groundwork for an agenda that serves the American people. H.R. 1 also reaffirms that Congress should have the authority to regulate money in politics, pushing back on the wrong-headed Citizens United and Buckley decisions by the Supreme Court.
- Strengthen Oversight— H.R. 1 ensures that there are cops on the campaign finance beat that will enforce the laws 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.
Ensure public officials work for the public interest.
- 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 presidents 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 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.
This robust package of reforms is real; it’s built to last and it’s truly of, by and for the people. To learn more about H.R. 1, the For the People Act, see here.