House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other House Democrats rally ahead of the passage of H.R. 1, “The For the People Act,” at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, March 8, 2019. (Associated Press)
U.S. House Democrats passed a sweeping anti-corruption and voting rights bill Friday that they said was intended to make voting easier, as well as strengthen ethics rules, while also rejecting a motion to condemn voting by undocumented immigrants.
The legislation, dubbed the “For The People Act” or “H.R.1,” passed 234-193 along party lines.
The proposal — nearly 700 pages — calls for Election Day to be designated a federal holiday, requires all states to offer automatic voter registration, restores voting rights to convicted felons, institutes independent redistricting commissions to weed out gerrymandering and requires nonprofit organizations to disclose the names of donors who contribute more than $10,000 in an effort to rein in dark-money groups. .
“It’s a power grab for the American people,” U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., who leads the House administration committee that shepherded the legislation, according to the New York Times.
The bill also requires the sitting president and vice president to release 10 years of federal tax returns, as well as presidential candidates.
“This bill is a massive federal government takeover that would undermine the integrity of our elections,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Friday, the Times reported.
“This bill is a massive federal government takeover that would undermine the integrity of our elections.”
The legislation has almost no chance of passing in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has indicated he will not bring the bill for a vote, effectively killing the bill.
“We know this bill is not going to be signed into law,” said Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis, the ranking Republican on the House subcommittee on elections, on the House floor before the vote. “This bill is nothing but a bill that is for loading billions of billions of dollars into the coffers of members of Congress.”
In the broader debate over voter accessibility, House Democrats also voted Friday to defend localities that allow non-citizens to vote in their elections, the Washington Times reported. The 228-197 vote would have almost no effect as noncitizens are barred from participating in federal elections. The GOP-backed measure would have added language to “H.R.1 stating that “allowing illegal immigrants the right to vote devalues the franchise and diminishes the voting power of United States citizens.”
“We are prepared to open up the political process and let all of the people come in,” Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat and hero of the civil rights movement, told colleagues. The measure referenced San Francisco’s policy of allowing noncitizens, including undocumented immigrants, to vote in school board elections.
Just six Democrats voted against it and one Republican opposed it.
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