HR 1 Overhaul Would Set New Holiday and New Rules for Lobbyists, Elections and Justices

Mar 3, 2021
In The News

The House approved a sweeping political money, elections, influence and ethics measure Wednesday, but the bill faces an uncertain fate in the Senate, where it will trigger renewed debate over the legislative filibuster.  Championed by Democrats and dubbed HR 1 to symbolize its high priority, the overhaul package passed the House 220-210 in a late-night vote.... The HR 1 measure totaled some 800 pages and included 60 pieces of legislation, according to chief author Rep. John Sarbanes of Maryland. It would reshape how congressional candidates may fund their campaigns, set minimum access standards for voting and establish new ethical standards for lobbyists, lawmakers and federal officials.  “HR 1 is designed to restore the voices of Americans who felt left out and locked out for too long,” Sarbanes said Wednesday during a news conference on the steps of the Capitol.... Given its sweeping scope, here are the details on five lesser-known provisions: A hallmark of the package would set out an optional system to finance congressional campaigns with public money. It would provide a 6-to-1 match of small-dollar campaign donations and, supporters say, would reduce the influence of big campaign donors in the political system and provide a way for less affluent candidates, who don’t have networks of big donors, to run for office.... All states would be required to send voters an application to cast their ballots by mail, according to a manager’s amendment to the bill. Proponents say such provisions aim to make voting easier and more accessible, while opponents argue that Democrats are trying to make permanent some of the emergency changes implemented during the coronavirus pandemic....  Provisions in the bill seek to dial back so-called shadow lobbying, the behind-the-scenes guidance that formerly elected officials often make their post-government living on without having to register as a federal lobbyist and disclose who is paying for their knowledge and influence. Anyone who keeps their lobbying activities under 20 percent of their time for a client (and avoids making one contact with a member of Congress or other “covered official”) can remain under the public radar.  HR 1 would take that threshold down to 10 percent. In short, it would expand the scope of activities that require registering as a federal lobbyist.... Supreme Court justices would face a code of conduct in the bill that would institute new transparency and ethics rules.... Finally, included in the manager’s amendment to the bill was a provision making Election Day a public holiday.