House Democrats Pass Broad Campaign and Vote Finance Reform Bill, HR 1


The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed campaign finance and voting reform legislation signed by Democrats that aims to expand access to the polls, fight partisan manipulation and establish new public funding for congressional races.

The For the People Act of 2021, known as HR 1, passed 221 to 207 votes. Three Republicans joined Democrats in passing the broad voter rights reform that is now heading to the Senate.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, said the legislation is necessary to combat voter suppression efforts in the states, to combat corruption and to lessen the influence of big donors in politics.

“This is called the For The People bill,” Pelosi said Wednesday at an HR 1 event prior to passage. “And in doing so, we combat big, dark and special interest money in politics and amplify the voice of the American people.”

HOUSE DEMOCRATS HR 1 WOULD CREATE NEW PUBLIC FUNDING OF CONGRESS CAMPAIGNS

An important pillar of the legislation is the establishment of a new public funding system for presidential and congressional elections to encourage small dollar donations. The legislation would establish a match of 6: 1 for each base contribution to a candidate up to $ 200.

For example, a $ 200 donation to a House candidate would match $ 1,200 in public funds for a total contribution of $ 1,400.

The public counterpart program would be funded by a new 4.75% surcharge on penal and civil sanctions and settlements that corporations pay to the U.S. government. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated this week that the new flow of revenue would generate about $ 3.2 billion in 10 years.

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Republicans criticized the provision of public funding as a way to fill the campaign coffers of members of Congress.

“This bill is not for the people, it is for politicians,” said Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Illinois.

FILE: In this photo provided by Wisconsin Watch, poll workers Jeff and Lori Lutzka, right, process absentee ballots at the Milwaukee central counting facility on August 11, 2020. Wisconsin elections officials are taking several steps to make voting by mail smoother in November, when the majority of people are expected to vote absentee.  (Will Cioci / Wisconsin Watch via AP)

FILE: In this photo provided by Wisconsin Watch, poll workers Jeff and Lori Lutzka, right, process absentee ballots at the Milwaukee central counting facility on August 11, 2020. Wisconsin elections officials are taking several steps to make voting by mail smoother in November, when the majority of people are expected to vote absentee. (Will Cioci / Wisconsin Watch via AP)

The voting reform legislation, numbered HR 1 to indicate it is the top priority of House Democrats, would also enact automatic voter registration, restore voting rights to offenders after they have completed their sentences, and expand access to early voting and absentee voting.

It also bans voter list purges and partisan manipulation of congressional districts, imposes new campaign finance rules, and requires presidential nominees to post 10 years of tax returns.

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HR 1 would also target big dollar donors and dark money in politics by demanding additional campaign donor disclosure and political advertising disclaimers.

Republicans, however, said voters want more integrity and trust in the electoral system and that requires stricter reforms such as voter identification.

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“This bill makes elections less reliable, not more,” said Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas. “Confidence is everything.”

The legislation now heads to the Senate, where it has a difficult path to passage as the House is split 50% between Democrats and Republicans. The legislation would require 60 votes to advance and would need the support of the Republican Party.

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