Statement of Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn
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. 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.
The failure by the last Congress to read the writing on the wall regarding public demands for meaningful democracy reforms led to a drastic change in the composition of the U.S. House of Representatives. The For the People Act represents a down payment to the American people in answer to their full-throated demands for change. It contains many bold reforms, such as small-donor matching fund systems and independent redistricting commissions, that have passed with strong bipartisan support at the state and local level, to help empower the voices of everyday Americans.
We urge the House to pass the bill expeditiously and to forward the bill to the Senate in order to shine a spotlight on the Senate’s response – or silence in the face of public demand. Under Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, that response has been to declare any proposed democracy reform DOA. That stance must change, or the Senate may find itself with a number of new faces in 2021.
Common Cause’s Our Democracy 2018 report reflects the growing commitment to press reform in the incoming Congress. It was reflected in the record response rate from campaigns in which we asked then-candidates to go on the record with their positions on 18 key democracy reforms. The responses from more than 370 candidates were heartening, as these reflect an incoming Congress prepared to follow the will of the people.
Many democracy reform champions in Congress have worked for months to develop HR 1. We especially want to thank Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her dedication to prioritizing democracy reform issues and to Congressman John Sarbanes, leader of the House Democracy Reform Task Force, for introducing the reform package.
To view a report on the ballot reform measures passed around the country this cycle, click here.
To view Common Cause’s “Our Democracy 2018” responses from congressional candidates, click here.