HR 1 just passed in the House of Representatives. Here’s what both sides are saying about the “For The People Act”. To have stories like this and more delivered directly to your inbox, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.
Top Story: HR 1, For The People Act
Brian Slodysko, writing for AP, reports: “House Democrats passed sweeping voting and ethics legislation over unanimous Republican opposition, advancing to the Senate what would be the largest overhaul of the US election law in at least a generation.
House Resolution 1 (HR 1) which touches on virtually every aspect of the electoral process, was approved Wednesday night on a near party-line 220-210 vote. It would restrict partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts, strike down hurdles to voting, and bring transparency to a murky campaign finance system that allows wealthy donors to anonymously bankroll political causes.” Here’s what both sides are saying about the “For The People Act” as it is also known:
On The Left
The left believes this bill is a necessary expansion of voting rights and a bulwark against Republican efforts to disenfranchise Democratic voters. They also view legislative action as a method for superseding unfavorable Supreme Court rulings, both in the past and future.
Marcia Brown, in The American Prospect, writes that HR 1 “includes provisions for automatic voter registration, and empowers small donors through a public-financing system. It would end partisan gerrymandering and overhaul federal ethics rules, including a code of ethics for Supreme Court justices.” She continues by citing the bill’s advocates who say it “would make America a true democracy, by rolling back the stranglehold that big-money donors have on the political system.” She believes that “Statutory overrides…are a key tool for Congress to take back its power as a coequal branch of government” from the Supreme Court. In all, HR 1 “counters the influence of corporate spending by empowering small-dollar donors as a countervailing force, and by requiring greater transparency and independence of the big donors in political spending.”
Writing for the Brennan Center, Elizabeth Hira states the bill’s automatic and same-day voter registration provisions serve to guard against “arbitrary administrative hurdles and purges” that undermine ballot access. She also praises the bill for restoring the vote “to all formerly incarcerated citizens” and for allowing people who “lack photo ID to vote with sworn affidavits of their identity.” In all, she argues that “These reforms benefit everyone in a well-functioning democracy, but many specifically redress harms against communities most impacted — and targeted by — voting restrictions.”
Stephen Spaulding also supports this new legislation in The Hill. In his words, “The For The People Act would set fair, baseline standards to reverse the coordinated, Republican-led state efforts to restrict voting at the state level.” He cites, as an example, a provision that prohibits “chief election officials like secretaries of states from managing, fundraising, or otherwise taking part in the campaigns of federal candidates whose elections they oversee.” He also lauds new rules that “protect against foreign interference in elections, [saying] the For the People Act requires political campaigns—including super PACs—to disclose to the FBI and the Federal Election Commission any offers of illicit campaign help from foreign governments.” Finally, he supports requiring “outside groups spending money supporting and opposing the confirmation of federal judges to disclose their top donors to the public.” In summary, Spaulding believes that “The For the People Act at its core is about strengthening the freedom of Americans to vote; breaking the grip of big money on the political process; and ensuring our public officials abide by high ethical standards.”
The left sees HR 1 as a critical step in asserting federal control to magnify recent changes they seek with respect to the electoral process.
On The Right
In HR 1, Republicans see an aggressive attempt by Democrats to further undermine the controls necessary to ensure voter integrity. They view HR 1 as yet another example of Democrats transferring power from the states to the federal government.
John Fund argues in The Spectator that “HR 1 would cement all of the worst changes in election law made in blue states in 2020 and nationalize them. Federal control of elections would be the norm. States would be relegated to colonial outposts that carry out Washington DC’s mandates.” Fund quotes CA Republican Tom McClintock, who writes that “Democracies die when one party seizes control of the elections process, eliminates the safeguards that have protected the integrity of the ballot, places restrictions on free speech, and seizes the earnings of individual citizens to promote candidates they may abhor.” Fund believes that such “apocalyptic rhetoric” is warranted, and he cites several aspects of the bill to support his view. For one, the bill makes “fraud easier by forcing states to implement early voting, automatic voter registration, same-day registration, online voter registration, and no-fault absentee balloting” all while degrading “the accuracy of registration lists by requiring states to automatically register all individuals on state and federal databases.” He argues that this would “include many ineligible voters, including aliens.” Furthermore, Fund notes the bill would “prevent election officials from checking the eligibility and qualifications of voters and removing ineligible voters.” The bill would also “require states to allow 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds to register” all while banning voter ID, thereby allowing underage individuals to vote. He cites many more examples to support his concerns and ultimately concludes that “should HR 1 pass, its so-called ‘reforms’ would likely send cynicism to levels that make America increasingly resemble a banana republic.”
In Fox News, a trio of Republican representatives write that Democrats “want to put the Democratic stronghold of Washington, DC, in charge of running elections — stripping the states of their constitutionally delegated authority to run elections in order to expand the number of potential Democratic voters.” They also contend that Democrats “want to fund political campaigns with taxpayer dollars in order to bolster their candidates’ campaign coffers.” Ultimately, they believe that those on the left “want to weaponize federal agencies to target and silence conservatives and their donors.” They also take issue with the anti-gerrymandering provisions, which will “strip your state of its ability to draw congressional districts, opting instead for an ‘independent’ commission.” Such a commission, they contend, is not an independent body, citing California, Colorado, New Jersey, and other states where “these commissions have failed to take partisanship out of redistricting and have favored Democrats over Republicans.” They believe that conservative political advocacy groups are also a target of this bill and accuse Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) of “weaponizing the IRS to deny tax-exempt nonprofit status to entities whose political and policy positions do not align with the Left’s agenda.”
Finally, in Roll Call, David M. Primo and Jeffrey D. Milyowe place doubt on Biden administration claims that HR 1 is about “fortifying our democracy” and “protecting ‘the integrity of democracy.” The duo analyzed 60,000 individual responses to over 50 surveys conducted between 1987 and 2017 and “found there was no meaningful relationship between state campaign finance laws and trust in state government during this time period. This was true for limits on contributions to candidates, public financing laws, and independent expenditure bans (the kinds ruled unconstitutional by Citizens United).” Ultimately, they contend, “There was no difference in levels of trust between a fully deregulated system and a fully regulated system with limits on contributions, bans on independent expenditures, and public financing of campaigns.” This is based on “forty years of experimentation with campaign finance reform and virtually no evidence that it actually improves how Americans view their democracy.” They conclude that “Decades of social science research on democracy suggests there is no reason to believe that campaign finance reforms, which are themselves the products of a democratic process, are going to improve that process in meaningful ways.”
Republicans see HR 1 as a Democratic power grab at the federal level that they will use to bend the election finance and voting apparatus in their favor.
In a left-leaning Data for Progress poll, “More than two-thirds of likely voters (68 percent) said they would back the proposal. Just 16 percent said they opposed it.” They say “The support also transcended party lines, with 70 percent of Democrats, 68 percent of independent or third-party voters, and 57 percent of Republican voters expressing approval for the bill.” Meanwhile, according to Morning Consult polling, “69% of voters – including 55% of Republicans – support establishing two weeks of in-person early voting for federal elections,” and “voters trust Democrats in Congress with voting rights more than congressional Republicans” by a 17-point margin. Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi was the sole Democrat to vote against the legislation in the House. The bill now moves to the Senate where it “faces a much steeper uphill battle,” Insider notes. The Senate version of the legislation, S 1 will need to get the 60 votes required to withstand the filibuster in the US Senate, which is evenly split between 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans.
Flag Poll: HR 1
What do you think? Do you support or oppose HR 1 and its corresponding legislation in the Senate, S 1? Use the comment section below to share your thoughts.