Democrats in the House of Parliament passed HR 1, a bill they signed to reform anti-corruption and voting rights, for the second time in two years. But although their party now holds a majority in the Senate, the bill faces a difficult path.
As the figure suggests, HR 1 and its Senate component S 1 – also known as the People’s Act – are the Democrats’ first legislative priority. The extensive democracy reform bill has topped the list since House Democrats took back the majority in mid-2018 and immediately set about expanding voting rights and withdrawing money from politics.
There are many reasons for its nearly 800 pages, but some of its key points are the creation of a national system for automatic voter registration, the introduction of transparency requirements for political advertising and the establishment of non-partisan redistributive commissions to end guerrilla warfare.
The poll in 201
The future of the bill in the Senate is also untested, as then-majority leader McConnell never allowed it to hit the floor in 2019.
“If Mitch McConnell does not want to provide 10 Republicans in support of this remarkable reform, I think Democrats will back down and reassess the situation,” HR 1 spokesman John Sarbanes (D-MD) told Vox recently. interview. “There are all sorts of ways you could redesign the film like that [the bill] there will be a way forward. “
One of the ways under discussion is a partial amendment to Senate rules to allow democracy reform legislation such as HR 1 to move forward by simple majority voting and therefore potentially be able to pass party voting. That would be different from blowing up a filibuster, but it could still be opposed by Senate institutionalists even in the Democratic Party as Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), a staunch supporter of the filibuster detention.
Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, which will mark the bill and move it forward, said she wanted to bring the bill to the floor and see what support was for it before moving on. in terms of potential reform.
“We will go to the floor; then we see where we are, ”Klobuchar told Vox in an interview, saying her commission would seek to see,“ is there a filibuster reform that can be done in general or specifically? ”
Democrats say voting and democracy reforms are popular – and long overdue
Democrats hope the 2020 election will give them an argument for the bill. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Americans in many states have been given more opportunities and flexibility to vote by mail or in person. The results were a record 158.4 million ballots cast; Turnout in the 2020 presidential election is about 7 percentage points higher than in 2016, according to the Pew Research Center.
“We had more people voting in the November election than ever,” Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson told reporters on Tuesday.
HR 1, among other initiatives, will cement many of these temporary extensions. A recent poll by the progressive firm Data for Progress found that the bill is more popular among parties and supported by a majority of democratic, independent and Republican voters. The poll found that 67 percent of national voters support HR 1, including 56 percent of Republicans, 68 percent of independents and 77 percent of Democrats.
However, national legislatures in many countries are moving in the opposite direction. According to the Brennan Center, at least 33 countries have already introduced, profiled or passed 165 restrictive bills to tighten voting requirements again, including Georgia, the country that has given Democrats close control of the Senate. The US Supreme Court is currently hearing arguments in a case in Arizona that could further weakens the Voting Rights Act, limiting the protection of voters from minorities across the country.
Klobuchar told Vox that in recent years, when parties lose national elections, they will judge where they went wrong. Republicans, she added, have doubled restrictions on access to votes.
“These guys, instead of doing this, they say, let’s just make fewer people vote, that’s how we do it,” Klobuchar said.
The newly proposed voting restrictions, taken together with the fact that 30 state legislatures are controlled by Republicans – compared to 18, controlled by Democrats – mean that Republicans have more power to redraw congressional cards in the redistribution process in 2021. redistribution commissions (which HR 1 contains), Republicans can redraw the maps again to give themselves an advantage in 2022 and beyond.
“If we can do that and get into law in the next few months, there will be plenty of time to do many of these things in time for the 2022 by-elections, including how to reform this redistribution,” Sarbanes said.
What’s in the bill
The Law on People weighs nearly 800 pages. In general, it can be divided into three groups: expanding the right to vote, implementing reform to fund election campaigns, and strengthening ethical laws for members of Congress.
Here are some highlights in the account, divided into categories:
- It is creating a new national automatic voter registration, which calls on voters to drop out instead of registering, ensuring that more people are registered to vote. Requires heads of state elections to automatically register eligible unregistered citizens.
- It requires each state to put online options for voter registration, correction, cancellation or determination of party affiliation.
- Requires at least 15 consecutive days of early voting in federal elections; Early voting sites will be open for at least 10 hours a day. The bill also prohibits states from restricting a person’s ability to vote by mail and requires states to prepay postage on return envelopes for mail voting.
- Establishing independent redistributive commissions in the states as a way to attract new congressional districts and end guerrilla warfare in federal elections.
- Prohibits the purge of voter lists and prohibits the use of non-recoverable mail, which is used as a way to remove voters from the lists.
- Restores the voting rights of people convicted of crimes that have served their sentences; however, the bill does not restore the rights of criminals who are currently serving sentences in a correctional facility.
- Establishes public funding for campaigns driven by small donations. This has long been Sarbanes’ vision: the federal government will provide a voluntary 6-1 match for presidential and congressional candidates, which means that for every dollar the candidate collects from small donations, the federal government will combine it six times. The maximum small donation that can be compared will be limited to $ 200. This program is not funded by taxpayer dollars; instead, the money will come from adding a 2.75 percent fee for criminal and civil fines, fees, sanctions or settlements with banks and corporations that commit corporate abuses (consider Wales Fargo).
- Supports constitutional amendment for termination Citizens United.
- It passes CLOSE THE LAWpushed by MP David Sicillin and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, both Rhode Island Democrats. That would require super PACs and political organizations with “dark money” to make their donors public.
- It passes Fair Advertising Act, advocated by Sens Klobuchar and Mark Warner (VA), who will require Facebook and Twitter to reveal the source of money for political ads on their platforms and share how much money has been spent.
- It reveals all the political costs of government executors and slows down the flow of foreign money to the elections by targeting shell companies.
- Restructured the Federal Election Commission to have five commissioners instead of six in order to overcome the political impasse in the organization.
- Prohibits any coordination between candidates and super PAC.
- It requires the president and vice president to disclose 10 years of their tax returns. Presidential and vice-presidential candidates must do the same.
- Stops members of Congress from using taxpayers’ money to settle cases of sexual harassment or discrimination.
- It empowers the State Ethics Office to exercise greater oversight and enforcement and to enforce stricter lobbying requirements. These include more oversight of foreign agents than the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
- Creates a new code of ethics for the US Supreme Court, ensuring that the new branch of government is affected by the new law.
Democrats have a very narrow window for passing the bill
HR 1 could be a last-ditch effort for Democrats to compete in House races if they can get it through Congress and to Biden’s desk.
“The president remains committed to protecting fundamental voting rights and facilitating the voting of all eligible Americans,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in response to a question from Vox. “That is why we need to adopt reforms such as HR 1 and restore the Voting Rights Act. It is a priority for the president, something he will work with members of Congress to move forward. “
Senate Democrats are not yet ready to blow up the Senate filibuster, but they are also finding ways to get around it to pass major legislation.
This week, Democrats used budget coordination to pass the current bill to stimulate President Joe Biden Covid-19 through the Senate with just 51 votes. They are likely to do the same for Biden’s upcoming infrastructure plan, depending on how big the package is and how many Republicans will support it.
But Democrats can only use budget coordination twice, and only for things that directly affect the federal budget. Voting rights and anti-corruption measures do not fall into this category and the authors of HR 1 are not left with the impression that they could obtain them through budget coordination. This leaves them with a narrower set of options for HR 1 and even fewer opportunities for other priorities such as passing universal background checks or immigration reform.
Although Manchin and Senator Kirsten Cinema (D-AZ) have repeatedly said they will not get rid of the senators, some of their Democrats hope they can change their minds if the party’s agenda meets repeated opposition from Republicans. .
“You bring him to the floor several times and let them get in the way, and you see the effect of dishonest obstruction on some members’ views on the filibuster,” Senator Whitehouse told reporters recently. One thing is to say, “I don’t want to get rid of the treasure”; it’s another thing to say, “Well, this is out of control,” once you’ve encountered recurring bad faith obstacles.
This may be too optimistic. Asked by reporters again this week if there was a time for him to change his mind about the film, Manchin shouted, “Never!” According to Hill’s Jordan Carney.
“Jesus Christ! What do you never understand?” Manchin added.
While not blowing up the filibuster, Senate Democrats will have to keep finding loopholes to change their agenda.