HR 1 passed the House in the last Congress after Democrats regained a majority, but failed to advance in the Republican-controlled Senate. Now that Democrats also control the White House and Senate, House Democrats, led by Representative John Sarbanes of Maryland, are ready to re-pass the legislation. However, it is still likely that he will run into a roadblock in the Senate, where it is not clear that there would be enough Republican support to overcome a filibuster.
Democrats describe the package as anti-corruption legislation that would expand access to the vote and improve accountability and transparency in Washington.
“I don’t think the urgency has ever been greater,” Sarbanes told CNN in an interview. “When you look at what Republicans are doing across the country in states to reduce access to the ballot box, we need to do what we can to establish basic standards and best practices that allow people to register and to vote in the United States without it being an obstacle course for them. “
“All of these things are designed to restore people’s confidence in democracy at a time when we can see with our own eyes that things are quite volatile,” the congressman said.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Democrat from Maryland, echoed the message, telling reporters on Tuesday: “We believe HR 1 must pass because Republican lawmakers, concerned about their losses, either in their own states or in the country, are again stepping up their efforts to make voting more difficult for people. ”
Republicans, however, argue that the legislation limits political speech and represents an overbreadth and federal takeover that Democrats are arguing in an effort to gain an advantage in elections. House Republicans urged their members to vote against.
When HR 1 gets a vote on the ground, it will be largely the same as the version adopted at the last Congress. Notable changes, however, include revisions that Democrats say will make voting safer and easier amid the coronavirus pandemic, as well as safeguards against foreign interference in the elections.
Despite the slim Senate majority, which limits what Democrats can do in the chamber, Sarbanes said he was “optimistic about the way” ahead.
“I think our responsibility in the House is to put as much power as possible behind this effort with a strong vote,” he said. “I think if there is the will, and I believe there is the will … then there should be a way to do it.”
The congressman added, “We have to take advantage of this moment, and I think there will be an appreciation of that in the United States Senate. We will see if it can be done on a bipartisan basis. If not, then I will. thinks it makes sense to take a step back and reassess the filibuster and determine if that makes sense and determine if there is another way forward. ”
Main provisions of the legislation
The legislative package calls for far-reaching ethical and government changes that would impact Congress, the President and even the Supreme Court.
It would institute a code of ethics for the United States Supreme Court that would apply to judges and implement measures to prevent presidential conflicts of interest.
HR 1 would bar congressional lawmakers from sitting on corporate boards. It would also prevent lawmakers from using taxpayer dollars to reach settlements in employment discrimination cases arising from their own actions.
The bill targets Citizens United, the landmark 2010 Supreme Court ruling, by calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the ruling, which opened the door to unlimited spending by businesses and unions to influence the election.
The legislation also prohibits states from restricting the ability to vote by mail and, among other provisions, calls for states to use independent redistribution commissions to create district boundaries in Congress.