Mar 07, 2019
Not a single House Republican voted for sweeping Democratic legislation that would strengthen voting rights and reduce the influence of corporate money on the political process.
The "For the People Act" (H.R. 1) passed on Friday by 234-193 party-line vote. All 193 no votes were by Republicans. Four Republicans did not vote.
"Protecting our democracy shouldn't be a partisan issue, but the Republican Party has decided it is unwilling to even consider reform despite virtually all Americans agreeing that our system is broken," Morris Pearl, chair of the Patriotic Millionaires, said in a statement.
"Today's vote on H.R. 1 is a monumental step forward for our country that will hopefully lead to the people retaking control of our government from special interests, lobbyists, and billionaire donors," Pearl added. "It's also a shameful reminder that Republicans are pursuing political power for the few over the fundamental values that this country was founded on."
Even before the legislation passed the House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) vowed that he would not take up the bill in the Senate.
"What it really is is a bill designed to make it more likely Democrats win more often," McConnell claimed during a press conference on Wednesday.
Asked why he will not bring the bill to the floor for a vote, McConnell replied, "Because I get to decide what we vote on."
Progressive advocacy groups hailed House Democrats' passage of the For the People Act as a historic moment in the fight for fundamental reforms to America's democratic process, which has been corrupted by corporate cash and GOP efforts to disenfranchise minorities.
"Its enactment would remove the political barriers to the policy agenda favored by the public--slashing medicine prices, providing Medicare for All, preventing climate catastrophe, providing a living wage, holding Wall Street accountable, and more."
--Robert Weissman, Public Citizen"Its enactment would remove the political barriers to the policy agenda favored by the public--slashing medicine prices, providing Medicare for All, preventing climate catastrophe, providing a living wage, holding Wall Street accountable, and more--an agenda currently thwarted by the political power of corporations and the superrich," Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, said in a statement.
"This week marks the 54th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when Representative John Lewis--along with 600 voting rights activists--were viciously beaten on their march in Selma," said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. "Their efforts led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act later that year. The passage of H.R. 1, the For the People Act, represents another crowning achievement in ensuring our democracy works for everyone."
A centerpiece of the House Democratic majority's agenda in the new Congress, H.R. 1 would--among other ambitious reforms--establish a small-donor matching system, strengthen financial disclosure requirements, institute automatic voter registration and early voting nationwide, make Election Day a federal holiday, and curb partisan gerrymandering.
"These pro-democracy reforms are not pipe dreams; they are tested and proven solutions in effect in states, cities, and towns across the nation. We know these solutions work because we have seen them work. It is time to enact them on a national level," declared Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause. "Americans want and deserve pro-democracy reforms, and with an election approaching they are watching Senator McConnell and his colleagues closely."
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