House Dems Pass Major Ethics Reform Package Aimed Mostly at President Donald Trump
Bill moved forward largely along party lines, on 234 to 193 vote
House Democrats passed a package of proposals on Friday aimed at overhauling campaign finance laws, voting rights and ethics rules.
The For The People Act was introduced as a reform package that promised to return the power back to the American people on January 3.
The bill promises to restore the nation’s democracy, end corruption in politics, and reduce the role of money in politics. The House passed the bill mostly along party lines on a 234 to 193 vote.
It has no chance of passing in the Senate, however.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has been at the forefront of pushing the proposal, alongside Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), who introduced it. The bill makes it easier for citizens to register and vote. It also tightens election security and establishes a donor and public matching system in congressional elections.
“I thank all of our freshmen, every single one of them, for the message they delivered on the campaign trail and for the determination they have brought to the Congress,” Pelosi said at a press conference before the vote. “When our freshmen took the oath they made a difference, ensuring that the priories of their communities would be the priorities of the Congress. Now, today, we are honoring the people’s trust as we pass our transformative H.R. 1, the For The People Act.”
Make no mistake: President Donald Trump and his administration also appeared to be a target of the bill as well.
The proposal would require presidents to release at least a decade worth of tax returns.
Democrats have long been trying to get hold of Trump’s tax returns; he’s refused to provide them.
The bill also would ban executive branch officials from lobbying their old agencies for two years after leaving their jobs. The Office of Government Ethics would also be reauthorized, with an enhanced budget, after often finding itself at odds with the president for things such as not completely removing himself from his business to avoid conflicts of interests, as they claim.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights called the proposal a transformative vision for democracy in an open letter to lawmakers. Over 200 coalition members signed the letter, including members of organized labor and progressive activists.
The coalition letter blamed the Trump administration for making issues in the democratic system “worse” by damaging elections, the U.S. Census and the free press, it said. The American Federation of Teachers said lawmakers during the most recent midterms were elected to be a check against the president — which the union says the proposal does.
Republicans and the business community have largely opposed the proposal. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said earlier in the week it would undermine local control of elections and make it harder for voters for freely exercise their rights.
The White House has issued a couple of statement threatening to veto the proposal.
“H.R. 1 would prohibit common-sense efforts to clean up voting rolls to limit opportunities for voting fraud,” the White House said in a letter on March 5.
“The bill would also require states to adopt online registration, same-day registration, and automatic voter registration, thus imposing a one-size-fits-all standard for weighing the competing values of voter access and voting integrity,” it added.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said in a letter to lawmakers that while the bill brings more people into the political process, some parts actually would have the opposite effect for some groups.
The National Association of Manufacturers argued in a letter to lawmakers the proposal would threaten and place limits on First Amendment rights.
“At its core, this proposed legislation would threaten and place limits on rights guaranteed by the First Amendment,” said Aric Newshouse, NAM’s senior vice president of policy and government relations. “Certain provisions in this legislation would create new reputational risks for companies that wish to join associations and participate in the political process as part of the voice of an industry, rather than as an individual actor.”
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