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House Passes Anti-Corruption, Pro-Voter Rights ‘For the People’ Act

“It’s a power grab for the American people,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren

Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats celebrate on the Capitol steps

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Democrats rally ahead of passage of H.R. 1, "The For the People Act," at the Capitol in Washington.

J Scott Applewhite/AP/REX/Shutterstock

The Democratically-controlled House of Representatives passed a sweeping reform bill to address money’s corruption of politics and the erosion of voting rights on Friday.

“It’s a power grab for the American people,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) told the New York Times.

Among the reforms proposed in the bill are:

  • Making Election Day a federal holiday
  • Automatically registering citizens to vote
  • Allowing former felons who served their sentence to vote
  • Creating a six-to-one donation matching system up to $200 for congressional and presidential candidates who refuse big-dollar donations
  • Requiring presidential and vice-presidential candidates to disclose 10 years of tax returns

In addition, super PACs and non-profits involved in elections would be required to disclose donors who give more than $10,000, an attempt to bring transparency to a currently opaque system. One amendment also would prohibit spending of federal funds at businesses owned by the president, vice president, or members of the cabinet—a concern that has come up in relation to President Donald Trump and his many properties.

Republicans expressed their dismay at the Democrats’ proposal. “This bill is a massive federal government takeover that would undermine the integrity of our elections,” Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said in a speech on Friday condemning “this new, Democrat, socialist majority.”

“We must hold our government leaders to the highest standards, and with so many high-profile ethics violations in the past years, it is clear we have failed to do that,” Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), who sponsored the bill, said in a statement.

Republicans tried to sink the bill by adding a controversial provision stating “allowing illegal immigrants the right to vote devalues the franchise and diminishes the voting power of United States citizens”—a move designed to divide the Democrats—but they held strong, and the bill passed with a 234-193 vote.

Now the bill moves to the Republican-controlled Senate, where it is unlikely to pass or even come up for a vote.

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