Leading Grassroots Advocacy Organizations Endorse House Democrats’ Once-In-A-Generation Reform Package

H.R. 1, the For the People Act, Earns Support of Diverse Array of Organizations Dedicated to Good Government, Environmental Conservation, Civil Rights Advancement and Working Families

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Jan 9, 2019
Contact: Daniel Jacobs
(202) 225-4016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Democracy Reform Task Force Chair Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) today announced that a diverse array of leading grassroots advocacy organizations – including those dedicated to good government, environmental conservation, civil rights and working families – have formally endorsed H.R. 1, the For the People Act.

The coalition of organizations joined Congressman Sarbanes today on Capitol Hill to formally announce their support for the bill, a sweeping package of reforms that will rebalance power in Washington, repair our democracy, and return us to government of, by and for the people.

See below for a sampling of organization endorsements.

“Democrats won the House majority by pledging to fight the power of special interests and ending the culture of corruption in Washington. The For the People Act delivers on that promise,” said End Citizens United Action Fund President Tiffany Muller. “This is the most sweeping package of reforms since Watergate. It will unrig the corrupt pay-to-play system so that the voice of the people is no longer drowned out by big political donors and special interests. These reforms will ensure that our government is always putting the interests of everyday families first. We applaud the Democrats’ freshman class, which made this a defining issue in their campaigns and sent a message to Washington that this bill must be a priority. And we thank Speaker Pelosi, Leader Hoyer and Congressman Sarbanes, and the rest of the caucus for keeping their promise to build a democracy that works for all of us. We’ll channel our grassroots members’ energy and enthusiasm to fight vigorously in support of these reforms.”

“Led by newly-elected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Democrats this week begin an historic effort to revitalize our democracy,” said Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer. “Introduced as a first order of business in the new Congress, H.R 1 is an unprecedented, holistic effort to repair our democracy and our political system…. The American people reject Washington’s rigged system that benefits the wealthy and powerful at the great expense of ordinary Americans…. The enactment of H.R. 1 is a battle that must be won to revitalize our democracy, repair our political system and restore the credibility of the nation’s elected representatives. The fight is on.”

“This bill represents a significant step toward meaningful reform to bolster voting rights and improve campaign finance and ethics laws,” said The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights President and CEO Vanita Gupta. “Protecting every person’s ability to participate in our democracy is a fundamental responsibility of our elected officials. But this is just the beginning; H.R. 1 is merely one piece of the larger fight for true reform. Our democracy works best when everyone, no matter who they are or what their color, can fully engage. Until our system is completely accountable and representative of all of us, and until every person can vote free from racial discrimination and intimidation, we still have work to do. Congress must support legislation that continues to build a transparent, responsible, and meaningful democracy.”

“The first major bill of the 116th Congress is a critical set of reforms which would bring our antiquated election system closer to one in which more people can fully participate,” said Todd Cox, Director of Policy for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. “Through H.R. 1, the House is considering a robust set of proposals to address a number of issues currently undermining our democracy. The bill includes a number of voting laws making it easier for people to register to vote as well as restoring voting rights to individuals who have a criminal record, impacting upwards of 5 million Americans. It is imperative that everyone has an equal say in electing the people who will be making life-changing policy decisions about them on a day-to-day basis. The introduction of H.R. 1 also begins a larger legislative effort to restore the Voting Rights Act to its full strength following a 2013 Supreme Court decision which gutted a key provision that would have helped to prevent some of the voter suppression activities we encountered over the years and in the 2018 election. A fully restored Voting Rights Act is central to a fully functioning and fair democracy.”

"For far too long, corporate polluters have flooded the campaign coffers of our elected officials in an effort to drown out the voices of Americans and corrupt our nation’s laws and policies,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. “The American people know that a Washington working for corporate polluters and the wealthy elite is not working for the best interest of the public, which is why they sent a clear message in November that now is the time to fix our broken political system and strengthen the integrity of our democracy. With the introduction of the For the People Act, House Democrats have taken an important stand to protect and preserve the foundation of our democracy.”

“Corporate CEOs and the wealthiest 1% have spent decades rigging the political process to reduce the power of working people,” said Communications Workers of America President Chris Shelton. “By making it harder for working people to vote, stacking the courts with activist judges who have allowed our elections to be flooded with massive amounts of unreported corporate money, and weakening ethics rules, they have advanced an agenda that has devastated communities across America. The For the People Act is a bold step toward bringing balance to our democracy.”

“H.R. 1 is the most sweeping and far-reaching pro-democracy and anti-corruption legislation this country has seen since passage of the Voting Rights Act more than 50 years ago,” said Public Citizen President Robert Weissman. “It is a launch pad for the democratic transformation our country so desperately needs and for which the American people have been clamoring. Democracy reform is gateway legislation. When our government becomes a government By the People, instead of Big Business and connected insiders, then it will become a government For the People. Then we finally will see action on the policies that Americans overwhelmingly favor, from guaranteeing a living wage to all Americans to providing Medicare-for-All, from slashing drug prices to averting catastrophic climate change.”

“The For the People Act would bolster our nation’s voting, campaign finance, and ethics laws so that every voter’s voice is heard, candidates can run and win with the will of the people and not powerful special interests, and elected officials can serve free from conflicts of interest,” said Truman Project Interim Executive Director Bishop Garrison. “This act also includes provisions that are central to our national security. Efforts to provide for election security, full disclosures regarding digital political advertisements, and accountability in dark money’s influence are all important to ensuring that only Americans choose our elected leaders—and that only American interests drive our policy decisions.”

“Moms know that our voices can make a critical difference in our country and that none of us should have to struggle to register or to vote,” said MomsRising CEO and Executive Director Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner “We want a democracy where everyone participates, every vote is counted, and every voice is heard. Moms support the For the People Act, and MomsRising intends to organize aggressively for speedy passage. The For the People Act is legislation our democracy – and our country – urgently need.”

“It's a truly big deal for the House to make sweeping democracy reform its first legislative priority,” said Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law President Michael Waldman. “Neither party has done that in decades. Encouragingly, these are not placebo policies. They are bold, innovative approaches that would transform politics and the way government works. This start of the new Congress reflects an unmistakable call for change from the electorate. A genuine democracy movement made itself heard across the country in November’s ballot measures and candidate commitments. This bill marks the moment when the health of our democracy moved to the center of our politics, where it belongs.”

“Repairing the breaks in our democracy is the most appropriate place for a new Congress to turn attention,” said Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Kristen Clarke. “Recent elections in our country make clear that voter suppression is rampant, that money has an undue influence on politics, and that too many voters face barriers when seeking to access the ballot box. H.R. 1 sounds an alarm about the long, overdue steps that must be taken now to restore the integrity and health of our democracy.”

“H.R. 1 is a sorely needed legislative solution,” said Campaign Legal Center Vice President Paul Smith. “The bill would reduce the influence of special interests in Washington by multiplying the power of small donors. Coupling this with more disclosure of political spending would make government more transparent and accountable. H.R. 1 would also make needed improvements to curtail executive branch conflicts of interest, which have whittled away at public trust in government in the last two years. And the bill would curb partisan gerrymandering, improve access to voting by easing the registration process, and save people from voter purges that have become increasingly common in recent years. CLC is proud to have collaborated in this effort, and urges the passage of H.R .1 by the House and Senate.”

“Demos stands in strong support of H.R. 1, a visionary new bill that has the ability to transform our democracy by addressing some of the deep political, racial, and economic inequalities that have contributed to the current crisis of our democracy,” said Demos President K. Sabeel Rahman. “Many Americans, particularly working families and communities of color, rightfully feel that our democracy excludes them and that people in power ignore them. These comprehensive reforms – supported by the majority of Americans – can begin to rectify injustices that have shut people out of having a say. The right to participate in our democracy is foundational and fundamental. Without these reforms, our political institutions will continue to be captured and corrupted, serving the interests of only the few at the expense of we the people. The bill would help create a new more inclusive democracy, which in turn helps advance us toward racial and economic justice.”

“Americans want real reforms to strengthen our democracy,” said PFAW Executive Vice President Marge Baker. “People understand that without greater participation and equality of access, the many problems that plague our country will remain unchecked. This legislation shows that the Democrat-led House of Representatives is committed to rebuilding faith in government undermined by two years of the Trump administration’s disregard for norms and democratic principles.”

“Americans across the country have been demanding and passing democracy reforms at the state and local level, and they expect the same from their representatives in Congress,” said Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn. “The opportunity to move a series of hearings and a mark-up of the For the People Act (H.R. 1) marks the first viable move in nearly a decade to respond to overwhelming public demand for sweeping reforms. The proposed legislation offers a broad set of democracy reforms at a time when government of, by, and for the people is under siege.”

“This bill stands to improve American elections by making our election system more free, fair, and accessible to all eligible Americans,” said League of Women Voters CEO Virginia Kase. “The League of Women Voters is proud to see H.R. 1 includes restoring the Voting Rights Act, improvements to Automatic Voter Registration, public financing of elections through small donor matching funds, overturning Citizens United, ending partisan gerrymandering and more…. We encourage all elected officials to support legislation that works for the American people.”

“This landmark anti-corruption bill, H.R. 1, guarantees that the voice of every voter is heard,” said NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice OP Sister Quincy Howard. “In the last decade we’ve seen the fallout from the Supreme Court’s rulings on Shelby County and Citizens United: an unimpeded chipping away at the basic tenets of a just democracy. Our most recent election made it very clear: it is high time to rehabilitate our democratic system. H.R.1 includes sweeping provisions that facilitate voter registration, begin restoring the Voting Rights Act, check voter intimidation and deceptive practices, improve and secure election operations, promote access to voter participation, and protect the redistricting process from political gerrymandering.”

“In November, voters swept Democrats into control of the U.S. House by the biggest margin in modern history with a mandate to tackle the out-of-control culture of corruption,” said CAP President and CEO Neera Tanden. “Emboldened by a new freshman class of political reformers, the House has taken a huge step toward curbing the culture of corruption on day one of the new congressional session by filing H.R. 1, the For the People Act. This legislation presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fix the way Washington works—and ensure that the most important voice in shaping elections and policy decisions is the voice of the people, not millionaires and wealthy special interests. Only by cleaning up corruption can our government prioritize substantive policies such as affordable health care, better-paying jobs, clean air and water, and gun violence prevention.”

“Today’s introduction of H.R. 1 marks the beginning of an effort to restore the promise of our democracy,” said Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) Executive Director Noah Bookbinder. “Reducing the negative influence of money in politics, addressing the current crisis of ethics in government, as well as protecting elections and the rights of voters are all necessary components of this project, the most important one any Congress can tackle. The bold reforms in H.R. 1 that would fix broken enforcement systems, including the Office of Government Ethics and the Federal Election Commission, are particularly welcome. If we have learned anything from the ethics crisis of the last two years and the many ongoing fights for effective campaign finance disclosure that CREW and others have waged in the years since Citizens United, it is that effectively enforcing rules is as important as having good rules. In this regard, the For the People Act of 2019 is a ringing message to America’s citizens and allies that our politicians have not abandoned their commitment to our democracy.”

“The For the People Act includes significant improvements to voting rights, which are crucial to ensuring that everyone has a voice in our democracy and can take part in electing pro-environment candidates who will represent our communities,” said League of Conservation Voters’ Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld. “Voter suppression -- in particular the exclusion of people of color, women and indigenous people from our democracy -- has had profoundly negative impacts on our society and institutions. Additionally, fixing our broken campaign finance system and enacting sweeping ethics reforms are necessary first steps to blocking the outsized role of corporate influence in our political system that has prevented meaningful action on climate change.”

“This is a historic bill. For the first time in decades, a major political party and a House of Congress have put democracy reform at the top of the agenda,” said Brennan Center Democracy Program Director Wendy Weiser. “H.R. 1 offers thorough and well-tested solutions to problems that have blocked millions of Americans from participating in our government. This omnibus legislation would modernize voting through automatic voter registration, early voting, same-day registration, and improved election technology and security. It would also strengthen small donors’ influence in campaigns and lawmaking, curb partisan gerrymandering, and improve enforcement of ethics rules. H.R. 1 deserves the full support of every member of Congress.”

“The broad reforms contained in H.R. 1 represent a clarion call for democracy reform from the public that has become undeniable,” said Public Citizen Vice President of Legislative Affairs Lisa Gilbert. “Members of Congress will be defined by who steps up to the plate to support the legislation and how hard they push to fix our system. Americans care about having a good-paying job, a safe workplace, clean air and water, a financial system that works, quality education for their children, affordable housing and much more. But without a democracy that represents voters instead of corporate and millionaire donors, achieving the basic goals of the American dream has become a herculean struggle. Across the political spectrum, the public agrees that reform is essential, as the corruption in our government has become untenable, and lawmakers owe it to their constituents to make our democracy function.”

“….In order to get movement on Capitol Hill on the issues that people of faith care about the most: from immigration and the environment to healthcare and gun violence we must first remove the road block of money in politics and enact ethics and voting reforms,” said The Franciscan Action Network (FAN). “H.R. 1 is a step in the right direction to ensure that our government removes the roadblock of money in politics and ensures that all Americans have better access to the right to vote.”

“Our democracy is broken,” said Progressive Turnout Project Executive Director Alex Morgan. “Since Citizens United, big money and precision voter suppression tactics have had a massive influence on our elections and government…. H.R. 1 is the first step toward fixing our democracy. We believe that every American should have their voice heard, every candidate should be able to run and win with the will of the people and not powerful special interests, and that elected officials should be held accountable to their constituents first and foremost. H.R. 1 will restore these core democratic values.”

“The Indivisible movement started organizing after Trump was elected, but it wasn’t just about Trump — it was about saving American democracy,” said Indivisible Project Co-Executive Director Ezra Levin. “H.R. 1 is a critical step toward that goal and passing this bill is how Democrats can show they are listening to those who put them back in power in the House. Yesterday across the country, local Indivisible groups rallied to tell the newly-seated 116th Congress to pass H.R. 1 without watering it down or breaking it up. With more than 160 events nationwide, this is our biggest day of action yet.”

“Democrats have a plan to get our democracy back on track and make it work for everyone, not just the wealthy few,” said MoveOn Civic Action Chief of Program Rahna Epting. “H.R. 1, the very first bill introduced by the Democratic majority in the House, is a sweeping package of democracy reform and anti-corruption measures. From building the case to restore the Voting Rights Act to supporting the end of Citizens United’s flood of corporate money that drown our elections, H.R. 1 is chock full of things that will make our democracy stronger – which is why Congressional Republicans are so hellbent against it!”

“This bill is a great starting point toward measures that will improve voting opportunities for millions of eligible Americans in communities of color, people with disabilities, and those who have limited-English proficiency, which includes one-third of the Asian American community,” said Asian Americans Advancing Justice. “The right to vote is the foundation of our democratic system, and we must do all we can to ensure that all Americans have equal access to exercise this fundamental right.”

“This is one of the most significant pieces of legislation in a generation to assure that the fundamental elements of our representative democracy are protected,” said Clean Elections Texas President Dave Jones. “Clean Elections Texas is most excited about the H.R. 1 reforms that would enhance the influence of small donors in our elections by providing matching funds to qualified candidates. As we say here in Texas: ‘the water’s not going to clear up until you get the hogs out of the creek.’ H.R. 1 would finally provide a means to reduce the tremendous influence of corporations and wealthy individuals in our politics.”

“Democrats have demonstrated that they’re listening to the American people by making reform their first priority,” said MAYDAY America Campaign Director Chris Tallent. “The Republican Party on the other hand has embraced gerrymandered districts and racist voter suppression as central components of their electoral strategy. It’s no wonder why, since their core policy goals blatantly favor their wealthy corporate donors over everyday working people.”
 

For more information about H.R. 1 see here.

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