H.R.1 - For The People Act

Photo of Congress member Representative John Sarbanes

To expand Americans' access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, and strengthen ethics rules for public servants, and for other purposes.

You might favor this bill if:
►  You believe that America should drastically alter the balance of power in Washington and make government work for the people via a package of reforms in voting rights, campaign finance, ethics, and accountability, among other topics.

You might oppose this bill if:
►  You believe that the American government does not need reform in order to make it work for the people. Individuals should instead focus on becoming more politically active.
Introduced House Senate President Law

03/08/19 UPDATE:
The For The People Act has passed the House with a vote of 234 to 193. Democrats are aware the chances of passage are minimal in the Senate, and with the bill containing provisions, such as mandating the release of at least 10 years of federal tax returns for the highest offices in the country, aimed directly at President Trump, chances of having the President sign it are slim to none.

Senate Majority Leader McConnell has reportedly called the bill the “Democrat Politician Protection Act,” pledging to not take the legislation up for a vote on the Senate floor.

Recent polling made the PAC End Citizens United found that 82% of all voters, including 84% of independents, find they support a bill of reforms to tackle corruption in politics. Democrats cite that the legislation's provisions directly tackle corruption and dark money, provisions that are broadly popular across all political spectrums.

The bill now sits in the Senate.

For the People Act is a sweeping package of critical reforms aiming to "clean up the chaos and corruption Washington." The package includes reform in voting rights, campaign finance, and ethics and accountability, among other topics. Most notably the legislation mandates automatic voter registration, would require Presidential nominees to disclose their tax returns for the past ten years, and create a system to allow taxpayers to fund political campaigns.

These are some of the most notorious provisions:

It would expand access for voters to the ballot box by taking aim at institutional barriers to voting, such as cumbersome registration systems, limited voting hours and many other roadblocks.

Mandates automatic voter registration across the country, combating voter suppression by ensuring that individuals with completed felony sentences have their full rights restored and modernizing the voting system. The bill enhances federal support for voting system security, particularly paper ballots, and increases oversight over election vendors.

Prohibits voter roll purges, discriminatory voter ID laws and would combat gerrymandering by requiring states to build redistricting commissions with the purpose of redrawing Congressional districts.

H.R.1 requires any organization involved in political activity to disclose its large donors, as an attempt to end the current system which allows big-money contributors and special interests to hide their spending in networks of so-called “social welfare” organizations.

A small donation citizen-funded system would be created which allows every American contribution of $200 to be 6-1 matched for congressional and Presidential candidates, attempting to regulate money in politics. "The new system of citizen-owned elections will break special interests’ stranglehold on Congress and lay the groundwork for an agenda that serves the American people," states the legislation's press release.

H.R.1 would create watchdogs to regulate campaign finance, enforcing laws already on the books. This tightens rules on super PACs and restructures the Federal Election Commission (FEC) 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.

The legislation attempts to fortify ethics law by creating a code of ethics for Supreme Court Justices, clarifying what constitutes lobbying in order to trigger the registration of lobbyists who have used the loophole to not register, and would require the recusal of any Presidential appointees of any legal matters which could be a potential conflict of interest.

"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," the press release stated.

“Last year, the American people elected a new Democratic House majority with a mandate to end the culture of corruption in Washington and return to a government of, by and for the people,” said Rep. Sarbanes, the lead author of H.R.1. “The bold, transformative set of reforms that we introduced today will strengthen our democracy and return political power to the people by making it easier, not harder, to vote, ending the dominance of big money in our politics and ensuring that public officials actually serve the public.”

With the presidency and the Senate both Republican controlled, Democrats have a minimal chance of passing the bill. Nonetheless, the House Speaker is hoping the public will add their support.

“Our best friend in this debate is the public,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters. “We believe it will have great support."

Without Republican support, the bill has no chance of passage, although there are some Republicans who might support the cause.

According to The Hill, "Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis) spoke at Unrig the System Summit and has backed numerous reform proposals, Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) wrote a book titled “Drain the Swamp” and was elected on the idea before Trump ever starting talking about it. Gallagher and Buck are both parts of the Congressional Reformers Caucus with many other Republicans and Democrats."

Read the section-by-section of the legislation for a complete list of provisions.


Sponsored by: Rep. Sarbanes, John P. [D-MD-3].

Cosponsored by 0 Rep / 236 Dem.

See list of cosponsors.

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