The House on Wednesday evening passed a sweeping ethics and massive partisan elections reform bill designed to fit their partisan agenda by seeking to dramatically overhaul the nation’s election law that counters Republican efforts aimed at strengthening election integrity that was weakened during the 2020 election amid the pandemic.
The bill, H.R. 1, passed 220 to 210 with one Democrat joining all Republican House members in voting against it
However, it is likely to hit a roadblock in the Senate with the majority of Republican Senators opposing the measure, thus it is unlikely for the upper chamber to obtain the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster.
House Democrats passed a nearly identical bill, led by Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD), shortly after they seized back control of the lower chamber in 2019. But the House bill never came up for a vote in the GOP-controlled Senate.
Prior to the vote. Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-TX) tweeted his opposition to the bill, calling it a “Democratic power grab disguised as election reform that would change elections in America forever.”
“Ballot trafficking, universal mail-in voting, no voter ID, and taxpayer funds for political campaigns,” said Rep. Arrington. ” They take us for fools.”
Dubbed “For the People Act,” it is considered the first of multiple federal voting bills House Democrats plan to bring up for a vote ahead of the once-a-decade process to redraw legislative districts that will shape which party controls Congress. The 791-page bill aims to impose a slew of new national requirements, including mandate same-day voter registration on Election Day, expand early and mail-in voting by allowing one to vote two weeks early ahead of Election Day, restore voting rights to former felons and prevent states from cleaning their voter roll database. It would also require states to include drop boxes in every state for absentee ballots drop-off while barring states from restricting the ability to vote by mail and targets partisan gerrymandering of House seats by calling for states to use independent redistricting commissions to create congressional district boundaries.
The bill also seeks to overhaul government ethics and campaign finance laws by implementing an oversight of political lobbying and campaign finance and preventing members of Congress from serving on corporate boards. It will also require past and future presidents to release their tax returns.
Sarbanes, who authored the bill said the legislation would stop Republican efforts to add new voter restrictions, which Democrats claim it targets minorities voting rights
“If we don’t pass it in this session of Congress, the 2022 election is going to be a story of increased voter suppression across the country,” Sarbanes said. “Republican lawmakers are stampeding toward more obstacles to voting, blocking access to the ballot box in ways that could really create a kind of two-tiered society when it comes to how our democracy operates.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) at a news appearance on the steps of the Capitol earlier before the votes said
“Everything is at stake. We must win this race, this fight for this bill. At the same time as we are gathering here to honor our democracy, across the country over 200 bills are being put together, provisions they’re putting forward, to suppress the vote,” Pelosi said.
Another Texan, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R) spoke on the floor of the House in opposition to the vote.
“I’ve always found it interesting that elections are the one thing my colleagues on the other side don’t want to strictly regulate,” said Rep. Crenshaw.” See there’s this mythology amongst Democrats that common-sense rules in an election are synonymous with voter suppression. They make it sound like you have to go through an obstacle course to go vote. This isn’t true. It’s nonsense and everybody knows. Truth is the 4 out of 5 Americans support voter ID laws.”
Democrat Rep. Lizzie Fletcher, who has stood on a ‘centrist’ platform when running for office, veered away from her middle-of-the-road position by voting in favor of this measure. Not only did Rep. Fletcher vote for the bill, she co-sponsored it.
“The right to vote is foundational to our democratic system. And our success as a democratic society depends on protecting it,” stated Fletcher. “That’s why I’m proud to co-sponsor of #HR1, the #ForThePeople Act.”
The Biden administration this week threw its support behind the House Democrats’ voting measure, calling it “landmark legislation that is urgently needed to protect the right to vote and the integrity of our elections.”
President Biden said in a statement following the vote that he would work with Congress to refine and advance the bill, applauded Democrats passing the measure while promising to sign it if it passes the Senate.
“The right to vote is sacred and fundamental — it is the right from which all of our other rights as Americans spring,” Biden said while touting the bill’s provisions. “This landmark legislation is urgently needed to protect that right, to safeguard the integrity of our elections, and to repair and strengthen our democracy.”
Democrats claim the bill is anti-corruption legislation that would expand voting access and improve accountability and transparency in Washington.
Republicans argue that the legislation is Democrats attempt at overreaching voting laws in an effort to gain an advantage in statewide and federal elections.
Former President Donald Trump took aim at the bill, calling it a “monster” that “must be stopped,” during his remarks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida.