House Democrats Lay Out Ambitious Anti-Corruption, Pro-Democracy Bill

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).Gage Skidmore/CC BY-SA 2.0/Flickr

Democrats will tackle the expansion of voting rights and money in politics when they take control of the House in 2019.

When Democrats take over the House in January, their first order of business will be House Resolution 1 — an anti-corruption, pro-democracy bill that looks to bolster voting rights and tackle money in politics.

Of course, the bill has virtually no chance of passing, but as Vox notes, Republicans will be forced to face the issues and show Americans where they stand.

A vast majority of Americans want to get the influence of money out of politics, and want Congress to pass laws to do so, according to a 2018 Pew Research survey. Given Trump’s multitude of scandals, it looks bad for Republicans to be the party opposing campaign finance reform — especially going into 2020.

“Our best friend in this debate is the public,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters on Friday. Pelosi, who is poised to become the next House Speaker, talked about her longtime work on the issue of campaign finance reform, and talked up freshmen members who had championed the issue in 2018 — helping propel Democrats to a win.

“We believe it will have great support,” Pelosi added.

What will HR1 do?

Campaign finance

• Public financing of campaigns, powered by small donations. Under [Rep. John Sarbanes' (MD)] vision, the federal government would provide a voluntary 6-1 match for candidates for president and Congress, which means for every dollar a candidate raises from small donations, the federal government would match it six times over. “If you give $100 to a candidate that’s meeting those requirements, then that candidate would get another $600 coming in behind them,” Sarbanes told Vox this summer. “The evidence and the modeling is that most candidates can do as well or better in terms of the dollars they raise if they step into this new system.”

• Passing the DISCLOSE Act, pushed by Rep. David Cicilline (RI) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), both Democrats from Rhode Island. This would require Super PACs and “dark money” political organizations to make their donors public.

• Passing the Honest Ads Act, championed by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (MN) and Mark Warner (VA), which would require Facebook and Twitter to disclose the source of money of political ads on their platforms, and share how much money was spent.

Ethics

• Requiring the president to disclose his or her tax returns.

• Stopping members of Congress from using taxpayer money to settle sexual harassment cases or buy first-class plane tickets.

• Giving the Office of Government Ethics the power to do more oversight and enforcement and put in stricter lobbying registration requirements.

• Create a new ethical code for the US Supreme Court, ensuring all branches of government are impacted by the new law.

Voting rights

• Creating new national automatic voter registration that asks voters to opt out, rather than opt in, ensuring more people will be signed up to vote. Early voting and online voter registration would also be promoted.

• Restoring the Voting Rights Act, part of which was dismantled by a US Supreme Court decision in 2013. Ending partisan gerrymandering in federal elections and prohibiting voter roll purging.

• Beefing up elections security, including requiring the Director of National Intelligence to do regular checks on foreign threats.

Read the full discussion here.

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