This ain’t fake news: “GOP Seems Afraid of Democracy” by refusing to vote on H.R. 1 For the People Bill in the Senate
Do You Support or Oppose the Anti-Corruption H.R. 1 For the People Act?
In voicing support for the sweeping anti-corruption For the People bill that House Democrats passed overwhelmingly on March 8, the editorial board of the The Palm Beach Post did not mince words:
Blocking H.R. 1, the GOP Seems Afraid of Democracy
We don't want to put words in their mouths, so you can read the full Op-Ed here or see below:
By The Palm Beach Post Editorial Board, March 17, 2019
Blocking H.R. 1, the GOP seems afraid of democracy
For anyone who doubts that Americans are fighting a war today over the future of democracy, take a look at what’s happening in the U.S. Congress.
On March 8, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly for the biggest political reform bill since Watergate. With dark money flooding Donald Trump’s Washington and Republican pledges to “drain the swamp” disappearing down the memory hole, this bill is a crucial blow to the forces conspiring to destroy our democracy.
All 13 of Florida’s Democratic members of Congress voted for it; none of the 14 Republicans did.
And in the Republican-controlled Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell won’t even bring the measure, H.R.1, up for debate. Instead, McConnell has made attacking this legislation one of his top priorities.
And if McConnell is attacking legislation, then it must be really good for the American people and bad news for the big donor class.
What makes this bill so dastardly? It seeks to lessen the influence of super-rich donors, to tighten ethics rules for Congress and force presidential candidates to reveal their tax returns and it would ban the most common forms of voter suppression and greatly expand voter participation.
McConnell reads all this as threat. He calls the bill a “power grab.”
McConnell’s stonewalling of this bill -- the same move he made with Merrick Garland -- flies in the face of public opinion. Recent polling from the PAC End Citizens United found that 82 percent of all voters and 84 percent of independents said they support a bill of reforms to tackle corruption.
Are you part of the 82% of voters that supports clean up corruption in Washington? Act Now.
And Democrats aren’t pure here. When it comes to issues like gerrymandering, Dems have historically been just as guilty as Republicans of trying to game the system to their advantage. But with their bill, the For the People Act, they are acknowledging the public demand for change -- which, really, should be a bipartisan enterprise. In 700 pages, the bill tackles all the major problems that the Post Editorial Board has repeatedly pointed out as poison to our politics.
GERRYMANDERING. H.R.1 would mandate all the states to set up independent, nonpartisan commissions to draw congressional district boundaries that don’t favor one party or the other.
Florida voters have been pioneers in this, passing ballot measures in 2010 to ban redistricting based on political advantage. But the Legislature ignored the new law and repeatedly drafted maps to favor the dominant Republican Party -- until the Florida Supreme Court forced an equitable outcome. H.R. 1 would take the job of map-drawing out of the Legislature’s hands and give it to a neutral panel: a more trustworthy solution.
VOTER PARTICIPATION AND SUPPRESSION. H.R. 1 would make voter registration automatic via an opt-out system, as it is in Oregon. It would reinstate the protections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, stripped away in 2013 when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the key requirement that states with histories of discrimination receive “preclearance” from the U.S. Justice Department before changing voting systems.
As a result of that sorry decision, states led by GOP governors and legislatures, like Florida, have time and again clamped down on voting access: purging voting rolls, limiting early-voting days, rejecting ballots after questioning a signature. In our state, thankfully, judges have blocked most of this nonsense.
H.R. 1 would also make Election Day a national holiday, enabling more working people to vote. And as Floridians decisively approved last November, the bill would restore voting rights to certain felons upon completion of their sentences.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE. H.R. 1 calls for a constitutional amendment to end Citizens United, the 2010 Supreme Court decision that opened the door to unlimited campaign spending by corporations and unions. It would replace the current campaign finance system that empowers the super-rich and big corporations with one that relies on small donors and public matching funds.
The trickle-down to Florida would be salutary. With Citizens United blowing wind in its sails, the Republican-controlled Legislature has steadily made it easier for candidates for state office to raise large amounts of money, while making it harder for the state’s elections commission to go after those who violate the law.
ETHICS. H.R. 1 would require candidates for president and vice-president to disclose their individual and business tax returns -- an obvious nod toward you-know-who. It would prevent members of Congress from sitting on corporate boards.
These are desperate defenses, and they scarcely hide the real motivations.
It is too much to hope that Florida’s senators, Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, will buck their party and embrace this comprehensive reform package. Neither is up for re-election in 2020. But Florida’s 27 congressional members are; and voters would be wise to remember who supported democracy, and who didn’t.
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