The movement for reforming democracy entered a new phase Tuesday when the House Judiciary Committee held its first hearing on H.R. 1, the For the People Act. House Democratic lawmakers introduced the voting, campaign finance, and gerrymandering reform bill on January 3, the first day of the 116th Congress.
H.R. 1 marks the first time in decades that either major political party has made reforming the systems of democracy a central priority. Among its provisions, the bill would make automatic voter registration, public financing of our elections, and other Brennan Center-driven reforms the law of the land.
The Brennan Center submitted written testimony in advance of Tuesday’s hearing in support of the Act.
“Taken together, the measures the Committee is considering today, coupled with other provisions of the Act, have the potential to transform American democracy,” Brennan Center experts wrote.
In testimony provided to the House Judiciary Committee’s chairman and ranking member, the Brennan Center provided insight on the specific provisions discussed in the hearing, urging Congress to prioritize:
- Restoring and updating the Voting Rights Act (VRA), which ensures every citizen the equal right to vote regardless of race
- Combating deceptive practices such as voting misinformation and intimidation
- Voting rights restoration for citizens with past criminal convictions
- Redistricting reform to counter the rise of extreme partisan gerrymandering
- Combating Citizens United, a Supreme Court ruling that permitted corporations to spend unlimited money on elections
- Strengthening government ethics, including applying a code of conduct to Supreme Court justices
In last November’s midterm elections, voters across the United States overwhelmingly backed a range of pro-democracy measures. There is also an energized freshman class in Congress — and many of the members made political reform a priority in their campaign platforms. Now they have an opportunity to put their words into action.