House Democrats roll out massive plan to protect elections, protect voters, and strengthen ethics

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 3: Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds the gavel during the first session of the 116th Congress at the U.S. Capitol January 3, 2019 in Washington, DC. Under the cloud of a partial federal government shutdown, Pelosi will reclaim her former title as Speaker of the House and her fellow Democrats will take control of the House of Representatives for the second time in eight years. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

House Democrats unveiled a bill Friday that would completely remake American politics if it became law. The For the People Act is a reform package that you’ll see described as “sweeping,” but even that doesn’t do it justice. This thing is huge—here’s just part of what it includes across elections reform, campaign finance reform, and ethics and lobbying reform:

  • Automatic voter registration and same-day voter registration and online voter registration
  • 15 days of early voting
  • End gerrymandering by requiring nonpartisan redistricting commissions to draw congressional maps
  • Voting rights for post-release felons
  • Prevent voter purges by the states
  • Public financing for House candidates who don’t take big donations
  • Tighten rules on dark money
  • Force disclosure on digital campaign ads
  • Expand the definition of lobbyist to close a loophole recent members of Congress frequently exploit
  • New powers and disclosures for the Office of Government Ethics
  • A code of ethics for the Supreme Court

Some features of the package are things we didn’t really know we needed until Donald Trump violated basically every political and ethical norm he could locate:

  • Require presidential candidates to disclose 10 years of tax returns
  • Apply conflict-of-interest rules to the president and vice president
  • Prevent the president and vice president from contracting with the government

This will never get a vote in the Senate while Mitch McConnell is in charge. Trump would veto it and probably spit on it for good measure. But Democrats have made a strong statement about what they would do to clean up government and make our elections more truly democratic.

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