House Democrats Introduce H.R. 1, First Bill of 116th Congress

House Democrats Introduce H.R. 1, First Bill of 116th Congress

On Friday, House Democrats introduced a sweeping anti-corruption bill as the first piece of legislation in the 116th Congress. The bill covers three main planks: campaign finance reform, strengthening the government’s ethics laws, and expanding voting rights.

The House is working with Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) to introduce a companion H.R. 1 bill in the Senate. While the legislation will pass the House, it stands little to no chance of passing the Republican-controlled Senate or being signed by President Trump. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told the press bluntly, “That’s not going to go anywhere.” Below is a breakdown of the various provisions included within the bill. A PDF of the 500+ page bill is attached below.

Campaign finance provisions

  • Creates a 6:1 public financing model for contributions $200 or less.
  • Calls for a constitutional amendment to end Citizens United.
  • Passes the DISCLOSE Act, which would require Super PACs and “dark money” political organizations to make their donors public.
  • Passes the Honest Ads Act, championed by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mark Warner (D-VA) and introduced by Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) in the House, which would require Facebook and Twitter to disclose the source of money for political ads on their platforms and share how much money was spent.
  • Mandates government contractors disclose any political spending.
  • Restructures the Federal Election Commission to have five commissioners instead of the current four, in order to break political gridlock.
  • Prohibits any coordination between candidates and Super PACs.

Ethics

  • Requires the president and vice president to disclose 10 years of his or her tax returns. Candidates for president and vice president must also do the same.
  • Stops members of Congress from using taxpayer money to settle sexual harassment or discrimination cases.
  • Gives the Office of Government Ethics the power to do more oversight and enforcement and put in stricter lobbying registration requirements.
  • Creates a new ethical code for the US Supreme Court, ensuring all branches of government are impacted by the new law.

Voting rights

  • Creates a new national automatic voter registration that asks voters to opt0out, rather than opt-in, ensuring more people will be signed up to vote. Early voting, same-day voter registration, and online voter registration would also be promoted.
  • Designates Election Day a holiday for federal employees and encourages private sector businesses to do the same, requiring poll workers to provide a week’s notice if poll sites are changed, and making colleges and universities a voter registration agency (in addition to the DMV, etc), among other updates.
  • Ends partisan gerrymandering in federal elections and prohibits voter roll purging.
  • Beefs up elections security, including requiring the director of national intelligence to do regular checks on foreign threats.
  • Recruits and trains more poll workers ahead of the 2020 election to cut down on long lines at the polls.

Shutdown Update Day 12: House Prepares Bill to Re-Open Government

Shutdown Update Day 12: House Prepares Bill to Re-Open Government

The 116th Congress will be sworn in tomorrow afternoon, and the first order of business under the Democratic-controlled House will be re-opening the unfunded portions of the federal government.

Reports indicate that the House will pass a stopgap-funding bill by 7 PM tomorrow evening. It will fund most of the government through September, but kick DHS funding to February. The Senate has supported this funding arrangement and it should be able to pass. The House and Senate are both in session Tuesday through Friday of next week.

It remains to be seen if the President is willing to accept this deal. He tweeted at Leader Pelosi (D-CA) late Tuesday night indicating he was ready to negotiate, but also sticking to his position on the need for a wall.