Sarbanes, Speaker Pelosi, Chairperson Lofgren and Freshmen House Democrats Highlight 200 Days of Senate GOP Inaction on Historic H.R. 1, The For The People Act [Video]

Lawmakers Call on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to Allow a Vote on Once-In-A-Generation Bill to Clean Up Corruption in Washington

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Sep 27, 2019
Contact: Daniel Jacobs
(202) 225-4016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Democracy Reform Task Force Chair Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) today joined Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Committee on Administration Chairperson Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Freshmen House Democrats to mark 200 days of Senate inaction on H.R. 1, The For The People Act, a historic reform package to restore the promise of our nation’s democracy, clean up corruption in Washington, expose secret foreign money in our politics, crack down on lobbyists and Washington insiders, strengthen America’s election security, protect the right to vote and return power back to the American people with clean, citizen-owned elections.

Since it passed on March 8, H.R. 1 has sat idle in the Republican-controlled Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to bring it up for a vote.

“This bill was crafted in response to what we were hearing from the American public, and the Freshmen Members of Congress – who are standing behind me, who you will hear from in a moment – carried that message loud and clear to this chamber,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “Mitch McConnell apparently is not listening the way we’re listening, because for 200 days, he’s kept H.R. 1 on the Senate side without bringing it to the floor. We’re asking him, ‘Bring this landmark legislation that can fix our democracy to the Senate floor so the people can have a vote.’”

See below for video of the full press conference, along with a transcript of Congressman Sarbanes’ opening remarks.

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“Thank you, Madam Speaker.

“Here we are, 200 days since we first passed H.R. 1, the For the People Act. Mitch McConnell still will not bring it to the floor of the United States Senate.

“This bill was crafted in response to what we were hearing from the American public, and the Freshmen Members of Congress – who are standing behind me, who you will hear from in a moment – carried that message loud and clear to this chamber.

“Our speaker heard that message, and she leaned in on Day 1. We introduced this as soon as we put our hands down from taking the oath of office. H.R. 1, the For the People Act was introduced not only with the leadership of Speaker Pelosi, but with the championing that came from the freshman class.

“And the message that was heard from the American public that we took to heart, and we put into the soul of H.R. 1, was number one, they were saying to us, ‘You shouldn’t have to run an obstacle course to get to the ballot box in America.’ So we need to strengthen voting and registration and push back on voter suppression across the country.

“The second thing that they said to us, the message that was coming, that we heard loud and clear, was, ‘When you go to Washington, you should behave yourself. You should act ethically. You should abide by the rules – conflict of interest rules and so forth.’ So, we built a part of H.R. 1 that would address ethics and accountability.

“The third thing, the third message that was coming to members of Congress from the American people was, ‘When you get to Washington, don’t get tangled up in the money. Remember who sent you there. Don’t work for the insiders and the PACs and the super PACs and the lobbyists and the special interests. Work for us, the American people.’ And that was embodied in reforms that create transparency about where the big money comes from, builds a new system for powering campaigns that makes small donors the most important people out there and strengthens the enforcement tools that we have here to catch people that are breaking the law on campaign finance in real time. That was all put into H.R. 1.

“In the House, Democrats heard those messages from the American people, and we immediately translated it into a blueprint, a framework for democracy reform, which was H.R. 1.

“Mitch McConnell apparently is not listening the way we’re listening, because for 200 days, he’s kept H.R. 1 on the Senate side without bringing it to the floor. We’re asking him, ‘Bring this landmark legislation that can fix our democracy to the Senate floor so the people can have a vote.’

“And it’s my privilege now to introduce, really the person who made sure we got this done in terms of regular order in the House of Representatives, and that’s Zoe Lofgren, who is the chair of the House Administration Committee where all of this was pulled together, and we were able to get it over the finish line in the House of Representatives.”

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