Three weeks after a nearly identical measure passed the House, Senate Democrats introduced sweeping pro-democracy legislation—but the path to the floor may be blocked by the GOP.
HR1, the For the People Act, would enact reforms including banning partisan gerrymandering, establishing automatic voter registration, strengthening the Voting Rights Act, and shining a light on so-called dark money.
The House already passed its version March 8 in a 234-193 vote along party-lines.
The measure, however, faces big hurdles ahead, namely Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Democrats in the Senate, however, are determined to keep fighting to get the bill to the floor.
"The #ForThePeople Act is about a simple choice: whether you want the government to be in the hands of big money or the American people," said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who introduced the legislation Wednesday along with Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.). "Every member of @SenateDems has chosen to support the people & co-sponsor this reform bill."
Every Senate Democrat is signing on to the Senate companion to #HR1, the #ForThePeople Act.— Senate Democrats (@SenateDems) March 27, 2019
We're committed to making ballot access easier and getting the influence of special interest money out of politics.
Nothing less than our democracy is at stake. https://t.co/YYhpxSQ28q
Udall summed up how the bill would "unrig the system":
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The American people want good jobs, clean air & water, and common sense gun safety laws. So why don’t they get action from their government? We need to unrig the system & pass the #ForThePeople Act. #HR1 pic.twitter.com/7dr9C4RYUJ— Tom Udall (@SenatorTomUdall) March 27, 2019
Democrats remained hopeful they could overcome the McConnell's recalcitrance by pure determination. Per CNBC:
"Sen. McConnell has already indicated that he doesn't intend to bring it up," a Democratic aide familiar with the legislation told CNBC. "But we're certainly not giving up."
That persistence drew praise from advocacy groups.
"By choosing to lead on strengthening our democracy in the face of Mitch McConnell's obstruction and refusal to move the bill forward, Senate Democrats are signaling that they view the reforms Americans want as priorities," said Indivisible Project's associate policy director Elizabeth Beavers.
"Democracy reform is the first step towards solving the many problems that lie before us. We must un-rig the rules and ensure that our government is truly led by the people. For this reason, we urge all senators to co-sponsor this bill," she said.
Referencing the House vote on HR1, Morris Pearl, chair of the Patriotic Millionaires, said, "Not a single Republican voted in favor of ending the corrupting influence of money in politics, and that should serve as a warning sign to us all about where the GOP's values truly lie."
"With this act's fate now in their hands," he said, "Senate Republicans must prove they're not the party of corruption."