Cicilline, Dems Introduce “For The People Act” to Restore Promise American Democracy

Friday, January 4, 2019

Comprehensive proposal includes two Cicilline bills; will empower American voter, limit corporate influence, strengthen ethical standards


WASHINGTON – House Democrats today introduced sweeping legislation to end the influence of corrupt corporate spending in political campaigns, restore ethics and integrity, and empower the American voter. The For The People Act (H.R.1) includes two bills that Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC) Chair David N. Cicilline (RI-01) introduced last year:


·         The Automatic Voter Registration Act requires that all states immediately register any eligible voter who provides personal information to their bureau of motor vehicles. The legislation counters decades of Republican efforts to make it more difficult for minorities, young people, and urban residents to vote through stringent Voter ID requirements, baseless claims of voter fraud, and limits on early voting.

·         The DISCLOSE Act, which is also included in H.R.1, will shine a light on the unlimited, secret spending that has flooded American elections in recent years. The bill includes a requirement for organizations spending money in elections – including super PACs and certain nonprofit groups – to disclose promptly donors who have given $10,000 or more during an election cycle.  The bill includes robust transfer provisions to prevent political operatives from using layers of shell corporations and front groups to hide donor identities.  Among new features of the bill is a “stand by your ad” provision requiring corporations, unions, and other organizations to identify those behind political ads – including disclosing an organization’s top five funders at the end of television ads.


“As Chair of the DPCC and as Vice Chair of the Democracy Reform Task Force, David Cicilline has been a crucial partner in developing H.R. 1, the For the People Act – a once-in-a-generation opportunity to clean up Washington and return to government of, by and for the people,” said Congressman John Sarbanes, the lead author of H.R. 1 and Chair of the Democracy Reform Task Force. “His leadership on reform issues – especially when it comes automatic voter registration and campaign finance transparency and disclosure – is a key reason why we’ve been able to present the American people with such a robust and sweeping set of reforms to end the dominance of big money in politics, make public officials actually serve the public, and make it easier, not harder, to vote.”


“Under Republican rule, the system has been rigged against working people,” said Cicilline, who passed three reforms yesterday to change how Congress operates. “The American people are sick and tired of corruption and mismanagement in Washington. That’s why they gave Democrats a majority in the U.S. House – to clean up the mess. I’m excited that our first order of business is to fix what’s wrong in our political system. I thank Congressman Sarbanes for his leadership. I look forward to working with him to pass this bill and send it to the Senate.”


Additional Background on For The People Act


H.R. 1 offers the most transformational and comprehensive democracy reforms since Watergate more than four decades ago. The bill follows through on Democrats’ election promise to clean up the chaos and corruption in Washington.


H.R. 1 makes critical reforms across three key areas:


1)      Voting Rights

a.       Improve Access – H.R. 1 expands access to the ballot box by taking aim at key institutional barriers to voting, such as burdensome registration systems, limited voting hours and many other roadblocks. H.R. 1 creates automatic voter registration across the country, ensures that individuals who have completed felony sentences have their full rights restored, expands voting by mail and early voting and modernizes the U.S. voting system.

b.      Promote Integrity – H.R. 1 fights back against Republicans’ assault on voting rights by committing Congress to restore 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. H.R. 1 also ends partisan gerrymandering to prevent politicians from picking their voters and making Americans feel like their voices do not count.

c.       Ensure Security – H.R. 1 ensures that American elections are decided by American voters without interference by foreign adversaries. The bill enhances federal support for voting system security, particularly paper ballots, and increases oversight over election vendors.


2)      Campaign Finance  

a.       Guarantee Disclosure – H.R. 1 shines a light on dark money in politics by requiring any organization involved in political activity to disclose its large 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.

b.      Empower Citizens – H.R. 1 levels the political playing field for everyday Americans, empowering individuals with 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 politics and enable Congress to advance an agenda that serves the American people.

c.       Strengthen Oversight – H.R. 1 ensures that there are cops on the campaign finance beat that will enforce the laws already on the books. H.R. 1 tightens rules on super PACs and restructures the Federal Election Commission to break the gridlock and enhance its enforcement mechanisms. It also repeals Mitch McConnell’s riders that prevent government agencies from requiring commonsense disclosure of political spending.


3)      Ethics and Accountability

a.       Fortify Ethics Law – H.R. 1 breaks the influence economy in Washington and increases accountability by expanding conflict of interest law and divestment requirements, slowing the revolving door, preventing Members of Congress from serving on corporate boards and requiring presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns.

b.      Impose Greater Ethics Enforcement – H.R. 1 gives teeth to federal ethics oversight by overhauling the Office of Government Ethics, closing registration loopholes for lobbyists and foreign agents, ensuring watchdogs have sufficient resources to enforce the law and creating a code of ethics for the Supreme Court.



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