On March 2, Democrats advanced their H.R. 1 “For the People Act” to the House floor, allowing only a handful of Republican amendments and a single perfunctory committee hearing.
The nearly 800-page plan will create federal legislation out of several of the most divisive voter registration and voting processes for the 2020 presidential election—measures that were first adopted by state governments in reaction to the CCP Virus pandemic and national lockdown. The novel coronavirus is another name for the virus.
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The House spent much of the morning discussing the bill before moving on to the 56 amendments that were required to be brought to the floor for a vote. Republicans authored only seven of the amendments. The final passage is scheduled to be voted on on Wednesday.
Universal nationwide mail-in balloting, registration of 16- and 17-year-olds, permanent early voting, limited screening for online registration, legalization of ballot harvesting, federal matching funds to candidates for private donations, and voting rights for felons following completion of their sentences are among the most controversial provisions of H.R.1.
However, the initiative requires substantial improvements in a wide variety of aspects of American governance, including constitutional problems like who can tell what and when regarding a candidate for federal office. Instead of the current system, which includes bipartisan approval for legislation, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) will be changed to a partisan-majority-rules body.
The proposal also requires federal candidates to earn salaries from campaign funds donated by individuals and special interests opposed to legislation before Congress, which has never been legal before.
The proposal also grants new independent commissions made up of experts, elected officials, and private citizens the ability to create congressional districts, rather than the states.
“The last election, held during a once-in-a-generation pandemic saw reforms that made it easier for many Americans to vote,” House Administration Committee Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who handled presentations by backers, said during the morning general debate on the bill. Absentee voting and early voting are examples of reforms. It also brought to light what many of us already knew: our political structure is fraught with inequities.”
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According to Lofgren, the 2020 election had “record turnout” and “no credible instance of election irregularity,” and “we should secure, not limit” access to the ballot box.
“The bill is almost 800 pages of provisions that take election decisions away from state and local governments and puts them in the hands of the federal government,” Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), the top Republican on the administration committee and manager of the opposition presentations, told the House during the morning debate.
“It infringes on Americans’ First Amendment rights to free expression, and it uses corporate funds to publicly support the campaigns of members of Congress…
“I know that when I talk to my constituents back home, they don’t think the federal government should be focusing on developing a program to help me raise more funds for my campaign.”
The bill, according to Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.), is “not for the people, but for the politicians.” The bill turns the Federal Election Commission into a tool, infringes on states’ rights, and strongly restricts freedom of expression.”
“Why don’t we have a discussion here on the issues and future concerns with mail-in ballots that is part of a non-partisan issue, why don’t we have the debate robustly here on the floor for the Americans to see?” Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) asked at one point during the proceedings.
“It’s a valid debate to have, and I think we’ve been having that debate, and very frankly, I tell my friend from Texas, I think we’ve won that debate,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) replied. We’ve beaten them in the courts time and time again.”
Lofgren’s panel, which has jurisdiction over federal election oversight authority, held a hearing on H.R. 1 on Feb. 25, which Republicans said was much less than could be dedicated to a bill of this nature.
“I have proposed a total of 25 amendments here today,” Davis said at the hearing, referring to himself and his two GOP colleagues on the panel. We filed these amendments because the majority chose not to obey the rules and refused the minority and many Americans a say in the legislation.
“Not only was there no markup on this bill, but our committee only held one hearing on the almost 800-page bill. It was four days ago that the hearing took place. The Minority’s witness was the only one on the jury who had previously conducted an election during the hearing. He testified that H.R. 1 would be impossible to enforce in many states and would undo many measures that states are putting in place.