U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, voted Wednesday to pass House Resolution 1, a sweeping democracy reform package aimed to protect and expand the right to vote and restore integrity and accountability to Washington, D.C.
The House passed H.R. 1, also known as the For the People Act, by a vote of 220 to 210. The bill faces a rocky road ahead in the Senate without Republican support.
The bill creates automatic voter registration across the country, enhances absentee voting and expands early voting opportunities.
“Many see Congress as a dysfunctional, corrupt institution more beholden to special interests than the public interest. Today, we face several enormous challenges and confronting them begins with making sure our government is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people,” Rep. Carbajal said in a statement. “I proudly voted for H.R. 1 to enact the transformational change our government needs. This bill delivers on our promise to clean up corruption, end the dominance of big money in politics and fortify our ethics laws so Americans can have faith in our democracy again.”
H.R. 1 guards against foreign interference, ends partisan gerrymandering, allows felons who have served their sentences to vote, requires more online political ad disclosures and forces all organizations involved in political activity to disclose their large donors.
The legislation would set up a new public financing system for congressional and presidential elections to incentivize small-donor donations by establishing a six-to-one match using taxpayer money for each grassroots contribution to a candidate up to $200.
This means that a $200 donation to a House candidate would garner a $1,200 match in public funds for a total contribution of $1,400. This would be funded by a new 4.75% surcharge on criminal and civil penalties and settlements that corporations pay to the federal government, and the total revenue stream was estimated to generate about $3.2 billion over 10 years, according to national media reports.
The program would begin in the 2028 election cycle and be voluntary. Candidates would opt in by meeting donation qualifications, and be subject to certain contribution limits. Supporters of the bill say this match program would get big money and corporate interests out of elections.
“Our democracy is fragile. We need look no further than the insurrection by a violent mob we witnessed a few short months ago for proof of that fact,” said Rep. Carbajal. “At the very core of our democracy is the right to vote and the measures in H.R. 1 make it easier for more Americans to exercise that right, something every public servant should be able to get behind.”
The bill is expected to run into trouble in the Senate, where it would require the support of 10 Republicans to achieve the required 60-vote majority.
Not a single House Republican voted in favor of the bill, and one House Democrat voted against it.
This legislation is close to the same as the version that passed during the last Congress, barring states from restricting the ability to vote by mail and calling for states to use independent redistricting commissions to create congressional district boundaries.
“We live in an era of big, secret, special-interest money in our politics and a lack of accountability. Voters should feel confident that their public servants are serving their constituents, not special-interest groups,” said Rep. Carbajal. “The reforms included in H.R. 1 will help put power back in the hands of the American people and make sure public servants act in the public’s interest.”