Congressman Higgins Announces House Passage of Landmark Government Reform Legislation
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced House passage of the most sweeping government reform and election security package in decades, H.R. 1, the For The People Act. The transformative legislation will strengthen the instruments of our democracy and provide more openness, transparency, and accountability in government, returning power to American citizens.
The For The People Act passed the House by a vote of 234-193, moving it to the Senate where it will be considered next. Introduced on day one of the 116th Congress, Higgins was one of 236 cosponsors of the bill. It features three planks: ensuring access to the ballot box, ending the reign of big money in politics, and establishing increased transparency and accountability among public and elected officials. H.R. 1 was subject to five committee hearings and consideration of more than 70 amendments.
Congressman Higgins said “The For The People Act is the kind of ambitious government reform legislation that strengthens our institutions and ensures fair access to the voting booth for every citizen. The measures in H.R. 1 will help repair Americans’ faith in their government by ensuring the integrity and security of our elections from foreign interference and enacting common sense ethics and transparency measures for public officials.”
Some of the reforms that H.R. 1 advances include:
- Providing for automatic and online voter registration, same-day registration, and pre-registration for those 16 and 17 years of age
- Expanding early and absentee voting to 15 days before a federal election
- Increasing the security of our voting systems to defend against cyber-attacks, including adoption of paper ballots
- Designating election infrastructure as critical and creating a National Commission to Protect United States Democratic Institutions within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
- Ending gerrymandering by requiring states to adopt an independent redistricting commission
- Requiring more financial disclosure in political advertising and for political donations by corporations
- Enhancing rules on Super PACs and dark money and restructuring the Federal Election Commission to strengthen its enforcement ability
- Prohibiting Members of Congress from serving on corporate boards while they are in office and expands conflict of interest and divestment requirements
- Requiring Presidents, Vice Presidents, and candidates for the presidency to release their tax returns to the public
After many of the critical Voting Rights Act provisions that had expanded voting rights were struck down in the Shelby County v. Holder case in 2013, voter suppression measures have appeared around that country. In the past nine years, 25 states have created additional barriers to voting, including shortening or eliminating early voting and closing polling stations. The reforms in H.R. 1 allow all Americans fair and equal access to the voting booth.
H.R. 1 has been supported by 71 outside organizations in a letter to Congressional leadership, including the Communications Workers of America (CWA), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), League of Women Voters, and the Main Street Alliance, and many more.
A full section by section summary of the bill by the House Democracy Reform Task Force is available here.