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Four Reasons Dropping Campaign Finance Reform From S. 1 Is A Dumb Idea

WASHINGTON - As The New York Times reported earlier this week, there’s a coordinated smear campaign against the For the People Act that has led some to call for congressional Democrats to “break off a narrower bill dealing strictly with protecting voting rights to prevent [it] from collapsing amid divisions over other issues.”

However, dozens of campaign finance experts, voting rights advocates, and grassroots organizations have rightly “locked arms” to warn Senate Democrats against breaking up the bill in order to pass a more narrow version that includes only the voting rights reforms.

Here’s four reasons why the bill should be enacted as a whole:

1. Campaign Finance Reform Is Extremely Popular With Voters

The For the People Act is deeply popular with the American people, with polling consistently showing that large majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents support Congress passing the bill.

When it comes to key provisions in the bill like reforming our broken campaign finance system, a memo from the End Citizens United / Let America Vote Action Fund found near unanimous support for policies within the bill that would limit the influence of money in politics:

  • 94 percent support making nearly all political contributions fully transparent
  • 93 percent support providing more transparency into lobbyist fundraising
  • 92 percent support prohibiting political candidates from benefiting from unlimited secret corporate money to boost their campaigns

The same memo shows that more than two-in-three voters—68 percent—would be more likely to vote for candidates that support the For the People Act.

Senate Democrats should not break up the bill to exclude popular provisions supported by a large majority of voters.

2. 49 Democratic and Independent Senators Have Already Co-Sponsored the Entire For the People Act With Voting Rights and Campaign Finance Reform

As the For the People Act makes its way through the Senate, 49 Senate Democrats and Independents have already announced their support for the bill and co-sponsored the vital legislation.

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Like Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer told The New York Times, “With 49 co-sponsors of this bill, it’s not a situation where one should be negotiating against themselves to satisfy the desires of opponents. We strongly support adopting this bill as whole, enacting it as whole and getting it signed into law as whole.”

3. Sen. Joe Manchin Has Embraced Campaign Finance Reform, Indicating That Stripping the Provision Wouldn’t Help Get His Vote

Just last week, Senator Manchin (D-WV)—the only Democratic senator yet to co-sponsor the bill—pledged his support for provisions of the For the People Act that would get big money out of our elections, saying “Now, more and more lawmakers spend their time dialing for dollars, instead of legislating for their constituents. This never-ending battle to raise money to spend on reelection campaigns cheapens our elections to nothing more than financial transactions. That is why I have and will continually support changing our campaign finance rules.”

Senate Democrats should not abandon campaign finance reforms backed by Manchin and the 49 cosponsors of S. 1.

4. No Evidence Exists That GOP Senators Would Be More Likely to Support S. 1 If It Exclusively Focuses On Voting Rights

Last month, professor and author Lawrence Lessig penned an op-ed in The Washington Post warning Democrats against breaking up the bill, writing “it is a mistake to believe that going smaller would make it easier.”

Let’s face the facts: The For the People Act is very unlikely to garner even one Republican vote, let alone the 10 GOP Senators needed to break a legislative filibuster.

Senate Democrats should not break up a bill supported by voters of all political parties to appease Republican lawmakers who will never vote for it.

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Repair Our Democracy is focused on defending the For the People Act against bad-faith attacks and outright lies.

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