House Democrats passed H.R. 1, the For The People Act, a sweeping election reforms and voting rights bill mostly on a party-line 220-210 vote.
The Hill reports, House passes voting rights and elections reform bill:
The For The People Act, better known as H.R. 1 — has been a top priority for Democrats, who argue restoring voters’ faith in the electoral process is more important than ever after former President Trump repeatedly asserted unfounded claims the election was stolen. [The Big Lie].
Not one House Republican supported the measure while House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (Miss.) was the only Democrat who opposed the legislation. It’s unclear why Thompson, who co-sponsored the bill last month, voted no.
The Biden administration has strongly advocated for its passage.
“In the wake of an unprecedented assault on our democracy, a never before seen effort to ignore, undermine, and undo the will of the people, and a newly aggressive attack on voting rights taking place right now all across the country, this landmark legislation is urgently needed to protect the right to vote and the integrity of our elections, and to repair and strengthen American democracy,” the White House said in a statement of administrative policy.
The measure would require states to offer mail-in ballots, a minimum of 15 days of early voting and calls for online and same-day voter registration. The legislation also calls for the creation of independent commissions to draw congressional districts in an effort to put an end to partisan gerrymandering. It would also provide additional resources to stave off foreign threats on elections, enable automatic voter registration, and would make Election Day a national holiday for federal workers.
Supporters of the bill said it’s a necessary step to restore faith in the electoral system and tackle dark money in politics, arguing it expands voting rights, increases transparency in elections and creates new ethics rules to tamp down on corruption.
Under the legislation, the Citizens United Supreme Court case, which dissolved certain limits on corporate and union political spending, would be overturned and coordination between super PACs and candidates would be prohibited.
Republicans have blasted the measure as a power grab by Democrats, arguing that the provision allowing for voters to designate a person to return their ballot equates to ballot harvesting, a pejorative term, and opens the door for election fraud. [No evidence to substantiate.] They have also slammed language allowing felons to vote.
“Second: H.R. 1 would legalize voting for convicted felons all over the country even if they were convicted of election fraud. [So Donald Trump may be allowed to vote in the future?] Does that make sense to you? Not only is this dangerous, it’s unconstitutional,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said in a floor speech on Tuesday.
Kevin McCarthy is one of the stupidest members of Congress. It is not “unconstitutional” for ex-felons or even prisoners to vote in elections. That is a legacy of Jim Crow laws, it’s not in the Constitution. State Felon Voting Laws:
“Third: H.R. 1 would weaken the security of our elections and make it harder to protect against voter fraud. Here’s how: It would automatically register voters from DMV and other government databases. Voting is a right, not a mandate,” McCarthy said. “In most cases, this legislation would actually prevent officials from removing ineligible voters from the rolls [voter purges and voter caging] and would make it much more difficult to verify the accuracy of voter information. So future voters might be underage or dead or illegal immigrants or registered two or three times. Democrats just don’t care.”
I reiterate, Kevin McCarthy is one of the stupidest members of Congress. Automatic Voter Registration, a Summary:
Eighteen states – including Kevin McCarthy’s home state of California – and the District of Columbia have already approved automatic voter registration. More states are expected to pass the reform soon.
GOP lawmakers said they believe election reform is an area where parties could work together, accusing Democrats of failing to work across the aisle. The creation of a 6 to 1 federal campaign match on small donations has also been strong sticking point with GOP lawmakers, who argue it’s a misuse of taxpayer dollars.
So they launder that money, that corporate money that we cannot accept right now into the Treasury and it comes out clean as public money. It’s money that used to be used for things like Crime Victims Funds,” Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) said on the floor ahead of the vote.
“Instead, this new laundered money, this taxpayer money, because it’s public, it’s under the control of us, then goes out exponentially to all of us, to our campaigns to pay for attack ads, fundraisers, mailers, phone calls, whatever you want. But either way, it’s government spending, government sending corporate dollars directly to us. This is and should be prohibited.”
This guy is a hysterical assclown. It is not a use of taxpayer dollars. This is the next BIg Lie against public financing of congressional campaigns, something we in Arizona are very familiar with, i.e., Citizens Clean Elections. Republicans are opposed to public financing of campaigns (even though many Republican state legislators and statewide candidates participated in Citizens Clean Elections at one time, before they decided to villainize it and try to gut the citizens initiative approved program.) Fact Check: Will HR-1 Give Taxpayer Money to Federal Campaigns?
HR-1 seeks to establish a public financing system for [federal] races in the hopes of giving more “average” Americans a more even playing field, according to the text of the bill. The bill seeks to fund a 6-to-1 small donation matching program exclusively through the Freedom from Influence Fund, which, unlike funding that has been used for presidential campaigns for decades, is not necessarily taken directly from everyday taxpayers.
According to the latest draft of HR-1, the Freedom from Influence Fund accumulates money from a 2.75 percent surcharge on criminal and civil penalties, as well as settlements from corporations, corporate officers and, to a much lesser extent, individual tax code violators in upper-income brackets.
This is similar in respects to Arizona’s Citizens Clean Elections: the funding comes from a 10% surcharge on all civil penalties and criminal fines. The Commission also receives funding from civil penalties paid for by candidates and $5 qualifying contributions, which are collected by participating candidates.
HR-1 also would create public funding through a pilot program in three states to provide $25 vouchers for eligible voters to optionally give money to candidates.
The 6-to-1 ratio, which is similar to one used for New York’s elections, would apply only to donations of $200 or less, including vouchers, and candidates are eligible only if they have raised at least $50,000 in small-dollar donations from at least 1,000 donors. They would not be allowed to accept contributions larger than $1,000.
THE RULING: Mostly False. In the case of HR-1, the Freedom from Influence Fund is not taking money from a broad pool of tax dollars. But according to Mazo, anything the government takes from penalties and surcharges could be considered a tax. [This is a chickenshit hedge for fact checking].
A version of the bill passed last year, 234-193, without any GOP support and was not taken up in the GOP-led Senate.
The bill faces an uphill path in the upper chamber, which is now controlled by Democrats. While Democrats are expected to bring the legislation to the floor, it is highly unlikely to garner the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster.
This is landmark civil rights and voting rights legislation, on par with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, both of which were unsuccessfully filibustered for weeks by white supremacist Southern Dixiecrat segregationists. They are now Republicans.
It is time to end the anti-democratic filibuster which was the tool of American apartheid during the Jim Crow era, and which has been weaponized under the “Grim Reaper,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, to apply to all legislation to effectuate his policy of “total obstruction” of the agenda of Democratic presidents, to the great injury and harm to the American people. This anti-democratic authoritarian villain needs to be stripped of his weapon of mass destruction to render him irrelevant, and to make the Senate functional again. It is time to make legislating “for the people” possible again.
UPDATE 3/10/21: Tea Party fascist Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), who has previously complained that “rank democracy can thwart” liberty, railed against the For The People Act on Wednesday, declaring to Fox News “Everything in this bill is rotten to the core,” he said on Fox & Friends about the H.R. 1 legislation. “This is a bill as if written in hell by the devil himself.” Sen. Mike Lee Tells Fox News the Voting Rights Bill Is ‘Written in Hell by the Devil Himself!’