Mar 27 2019
Landmark legislation would help repair our broken politics, restore the promise of American democracy, and make it easier — not harder — for Americans to vote
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons (both D-Del.), joined all 47 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus in introducing the For the People Act, a sweeping package of comprehensive reforms that would end special interest corruption of our politics and make government work for the people. The landmark legislation, companion legislation to H.R. 1 in the U.S. House of Representatives, aims to restore the promise of American democracy by making it easier, not harder, to vote; ending the dominance of big money in politics; and ensuring that public officials work for the public interest. Earlier this month, the House passed H.R. 1 by a vote of 234-193.
“At a time when Americans’ faith in government is at an all-time low, I’m proud to join Senator Udall and our Democratic colleagues to introduce legislation in the Senate that helps to restore trust and return power to the people,” said Senator Carper. “The American people deserve fairer elections. That’s why this bill restores the Voting Rights Act to better ensure that more Americans have access to the ballot box. The majority of Americans want to reduce the role of big money in politics. That’s why this bill works to get dark money out of our political system to ensure that those who represent the people are working in their best interest. Americans of all political affiliations want more transparency when it comes to those seeking office – not less. That’s why I’m proud that this landmark legislation includes my bill with Senator Warren and Chairman Cummings that would require all presidential candidates and their transition teams to disclose how they will address conflicts of interest before they take the oath of office. This bill includes common sense, good government policies that are vital for a healthy democracy, and it deserves bipartisan support here in the Senate.”
“Our political system is broken, plain and simple,” said Senator Coons. “It’s getting harder, not easier, to cast a ballot in the United States, and the influence of Big Money in our politics has gotten out of control. That’s why I’m supporting the For The People Act, so we can create the political system that the American people deserve.”
The For the People Act would:
Make It Easier, Not Harder, To Vote
- Improve Access and Secure Voting Rights – Expands access to the ballot box by taking aim at institutional barriers to voting, such as cumbersome registration systems, limited voting hours and many other roadblocks. The bill creates automatic voter registration across the country, ensures that individuals who have completed felony sentences have their full rights restored, expands voting by mail, promotes early voting and online voter registration, and modernizes the U.S. voting system.
- Promote Integrity – Fights back against the assault on voting rights by reaffirming Congress’s commitment to restoring the Voting Rights Act, prohibiting voter roll purges like those seen in Ohio, Georgia and elsewhere, and ensuring that discriminatory voter ID laws do not prevent Americans citizens from exercising their rights. This bill would also end partisan gerrymandering to prevent politicians from picking their voters and making Americans feel like their voices do not count.
- Bolster Election Security – Ensures that American elections are decided by American voters without interference by foreign adversaries. The bill creates a national strategy to protect our democratic institutions, increases oversight over election vendors, and enhances federal support for state voting system security upgrades, including paper ballot voting systems.
End the Dominance of Big Money in Politics
- Guarantee Disclosure – Shines a light on dark money in politics by requiring all political organizations to disclose their donors, which will break the nesting-doll system that allows big-money contributors and special interests to hide their spending in networks of so-called “social welfare” organizations; expands “Stand By Your Ad” provisions; and harmonizes internet disclosure rules with existing broadcast rules.
- Empower Citizens – Builds a 21st-century campaign finance system to increase the power of small donors, reaffirms Congress’s authority to regulate money in politics, and pushes back against Citizens United. This bill levels the political playing field for everyday Americans, creating a multiple matching system for small donations and allowing the American people to exercise their due influence in a post-Citizens United world, while reaffirming that Congress should have the authority to regulate money in politics. The new system of citizen-owned elections will break special interests’ stranglehold on Congress and the White House and lay the groundwork for an agenda that serves the American people.
- Strengthen Oversight – Repairs and restructures the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to break gridlock and enhance enforcement mechanisms, tightens rules on super PACs, and repeals policy riders that block sensible disclosure measures.
Ensure Public Officials Work for the Public Interest
- Fortify Ethics Laws and Slow the Revolving Door – Breaks the influence of special interests in Washington and increases accountability by expanding conflict of interest law and divestment requirements, slows the revolving door, prohibits members of Congress from serving on for-profit corporate boards, limits first class travel for government officials, ends taxpayer-financed settlements for officeholders, and requires presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns.
- Impose Greater Ethics Enforcement – Gives teeth to federal ethics oversight by overhauling the Office of Government Ethics, requires the Supreme Court to create a new ethical code, and closes registration loopholes for lobbyists and foreign agents.
The legislation is co-sponsored by every member of the Senate Democratic Caucus, including: U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Jeffrey A. Merkley (D-Ore.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y), Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Angus King (I-Maine), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). A list of organizations supporting the legislation is available here..
The full text of the legislation is available here.
A one-page summary of the bill is available here.
A longer summary of the bill is available here.
A section-by-section summary of the legislation is available here.