Mar 15, 2019
Things often don’t go according to plan. In this episode, featuring a feverish and frustrated Jen Briney, learn about the shamefully rushed process employed by the Democrats to pass their top priority bill, H.R. 1, through the House of Representatives.
Executive Producer: Anonymous from Washington
Please make checks payable to Congressional Dish
Thank you for supporting truly independent media!
Official title: “To expand American’s access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, and strengthen ethics rules for public servants, and for other purposes.”
Short Title: For the People Act of 2019
Sponsor: Rep. John Sarbanes (MD-3)
First co-sponsor: Nancy Pelosi
Referred to 10 committees:
Subtitle A: Voter Registration Modernization “Voter Registration Modernization Act of 2019"
Part 1: Promoting Internet Registration
Sec. 1001: Every State Has to Allow Us To Register to Vote Online
Sec. 1002: Every State Has To Allow Us To Update Our Registration Online
Sec. 1003: Voter Information Online Instead Of Regular Mail
Sec. 1004: 'Valid Voter Registration' Form Definition
Sec. 1005: Effective Date: January 1, 2020.
Part 2: Automatic Voter Registration “Automatic Voter Registration Act of 2019"
Sec. 1012: Automatic Registration of Eligible Voters
Sec. 1015: "Voter Protection and Security in Automatic Registration"
Sec. 1016: Corrections to Voter Information Can Be Done on Election Day
Sec. 1017: The Federal Government Will Pay to Make The Changes
Sec. 1021: Effective Date - January 1, 2021
Part 3: Same Day Voter Registration
Sec. 1031: Voters Can Register At the Polling Place On Election Day
Part 4: Conditions on Removal on Basis of Interstate Cross-Checks
Sec. 1041: Requirements To Use Cross Check To Remove Voters
Part 7: Prohibiting Interference with Voter Registration
Sec. 1071: Fines and Prison For Interference in Voter Registration
Subtitle B: Access to Voting for Individuals With Disabilities
Subtitle C: Prohibiting Voter Caging
Sec. 1201: Prohibits Removal of Names Based Solely on Caging Lists
Subtitle D : Prohibiting Deceptive Practices and Preventing Voter Intimidation - “Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act of 2019"
Sec. 1302: Prohibits Lying To Prevent People From Voting
Subtitle E: Democracy Restoration - “Democracy Restoration Act of 2019"
Sec. 1402: Voting Rights Extend to Ex-Cons
Sec. 1408: Effective for any election held after enactment
Subtitle F: Promoting Accuracy, Integrity, and Security Through Verified Permanent Paper Ballot - “Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2019”
Sec. 1502: Requires Paper Ballots for All Federal Elections
Subtitle H: Early Voting
Sec. 1611: Every State Must Allow Early Voting for 15 Days
Subtitle I: Voting by Mail
Sec. 1621: Vote By Mail National Standards
Subtitle J: Absent Uniformed Services Voters and Overseas Voters
Subtitle K: Poll Worker Recruitment and Training
Sec. 1801: Federal Employees As Poll Workers
Subtitle L: Enhancement of Enforcement
Subtitle M: Federal Election Integrity
Sec. 1821: Head of Elections Can’t Campaign for Elections They Oversee
Subtitle N: Promoting Voter Access Through Election Administration Improvements
Sec. 1902: Notification for Polling Place Changes
Sec. 1903: Election Day Holiday
Sec. 1904: Sworn Written Statements to Meet ID Requirements
Sec. 1905: Postage Free Ballots
Subtitle E: Redistricting Reform - “Redistricting Reform Act of 2019”
Sec. 2402: Independent Commissions for Redistricting
Sec. 2411: Creating the Independent Redistricting Commissions
Sec. 2412: Eligibility for the Independent Commission “Selection Pool”
Sec. 2413: Criteria for New Districts
Sec. 2431: Authorizes payments to States of $150,000 per district to help pay for the redistricting process
Subtitle F: Saving Voters from Voter Purging -“Stop Automatically Voiding Eligible Voters Off Their Enlisted Rolls in States Act” - “Save Voters Act”
Sec. 2502: Restricting Voter Roll Purges
Subtitle A: Financial Support for Election Infrastructure
Part 1: Voting System Security Improvement Gains Part 2: Grants for Risk-Limiting Audits of Results of Elections Part 3: Election Infrastructure Innovation Grant Program
Subtitle B: Security Measures
Subtitle C: Enhancing Protections for United Stated Democratic Institutions
Subtitle D : Promoting Cybersecurity Through Improvements in Election Administration
Subtitle E: Preventing Election Hacking
Subtitle B: DISCLOSE Act - “Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act”
Part 1: Regulation of Certain Political Spending
Sec. 4101: Foreign Owned Corporations Count as “Foreign Nationals”
Part 2: Reporting of Campaign-Related Disbursements
Sec. 4111: Corporations Must Report Donations
Subtitle C: Honest Ads - “Honest Ads Act”
Sec. 4205: Disclosure of Sources of Online Political Ads
Sec. 4207: Disclosures Must Be Clear
Sec. 4208: Public Record of Online Political Ads * Requires online platforms to create and make available online for public inspection a complete record of requests to purchase political advertisements if they purchase more than $500 worth in one calendar year
Subtitle D : Stand by Every Ad - “Stand By Every Ad Act"
Subtitle E: Secret Money Transparency
Sec. 4401: IRS Can Investigate Dark Money Groups Again
Subtitle F: Shareholder Right-to-Know
Sec. 4501: SEC Can Enforce Shareholder Disclosure Laws
Subtitle G: Disclosure of Political Spending by Government Contractors
Sec. 4601: Contractors Can Be Forced to Disclose Donations
Subtitle H: Limitation and Disclosure Requirements for Presidential Inaugural Committees - “Presidential Inaugural Committee Oversight Act"
Subtitle B: Congressional Elections - “Government By the People Act of 2019”
Part 1: My Voice Voucher Pilot Program
Sec. 5101: Voucher Pilot Program
Sec. 5102: Pilot Program Details
Part 2: Small Dollar Financing of Congressional Election Campaigns
Sec. 5111: 6x Matching of Small Dollar Donations
Sec. 5112: Coordination with Parties
Sec. 5114: Effective starting in 2024 elections
Subtitle C: Presidential Elections - “Empower Act of 2019"
Part 1: Primary Elections Part 2: General Elections Part 3: Effective Date
Subtitle D : Personal Use Services as Authorized Campaign Expenditures - “Help America Run Act”
Subtitle A: Restoring Integrity to America’s Elections
Sec. 6002: Changes to FEC make up
Subtitle B: Stopping Super PAC-Candidate Coordination
Subtitle B: Foreign Agents Registration
Sec. 7101: New Department of Justice Investigation Unit
Subtitle C: Lobbying Disclosure Reform
Sec. 7201: Expands Definition of “Lobbyist”
Subtitle D : Recusal of Presidential Appointees
Sec. 7301: Recusal of Appointees
Subtitle A: Executive Branch Conflict of Interest
Sec. 8002: Prohibits Private Sector Payments for Entering Government
Sec. 8003: Slowing the Revolving Door
Sec. 8004: Waiting Period For Procurement Officers To Work for Contractors
Sec. 8005: Lobbying Job Waiting Period
Subtitle B: Presidential Conflicts of Interest
Subtitle C: White House Ethics Transparency
Subtitle D : Executive Branch Ethics Enforcement
Subtitle E: Conflicts for Political Fundraising
Sec. 8042: Disclosure of Certain Types of Contributions
Subtitle F: Transition Team Ethics
Subtitle G: Ethics Pledge for Senior Executive Branch Employees
Subtitle A: Requiring members of Congress to Reimburse Treasury for Amounts Paid as Settlements and Awards Under Congressional Accountability Act of 1995
Subtitle B: Conflicts of Interest
Sec. 9101: Members Can’t Be on For-Profit Boards of Directors
Sec. 9103: Prohibition Above Can Be Changed via House Rules
Subtitle C: Campaign Finance and Lobbying Disclosure - “Connecting Lobbying and Electeds for Accountability and Reform Act” “CLEAR Act"
Sec. 9202: Separate Reports for Lobbyist Donations
Sec. 9203: Effective 90 Days After Enactment
Subtitle D : Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports
Sec. 9303: Online Portal for Congressionally Mandated Reports
Sec. 10001: Presidential and Vice Presidential Tax Return Disclosure
Article: 10 things you might not know about HR 1 by Lindsey McPherson and Kate Ackley, Roll Call, March 6, 2019.
Article: Conservative expert privately warned GOP donors that a voting rights bill would help Democrats by Lee Fang and Nick Surgey, The Intercept, February 27, 2019.
Article: House Democrats forge ahead on electoral reform bill by Zach Montellaro, Politico, February 26, 2019.
Markup: H.R. 1, For the People Act of 2019, February 26 ,2019.
Article: House Democrats officially unveil their first bill in the majority: a sweeping anti-corruption proposal by Ella Nilson, Vox, January 4, 2019.
Article: One state fixed its gerrymandered districts, the other didnt. Here's how the election played out in both by Christopher Ingraham, The Washington Post, November 9, 2018.
Article: 6 takeaways from Georgia's 'Use It Or Lose It' voter purge investigation by Johnny Kauffman, NPR, October 22, 2018.
Article: Registration is a voter-suppression tool. Let's finally end it by Ellen Kurz, The Washington Post, October 11, 2018.
Report: Purges: A growing threat to the right to vote by Jonathan Brater, Kevin Morris, Myrna Pérez, and Christopher Deluzio, Brennan Center for Justice, July 20, 2018.
Article: How Maryland Democrats pulled off their aggressive gerrymander by Christopher Ingraham, The Washington Post, March 28, 2018.
Article: Pennsylvania Supreme Court draws 'much more competitive' district map to overturn Republican gerrymander by Christopher Ingraham, The Washington Post, February 20, 2018.
Article: Pennsylvania redistricting decision gives Democrats a boost by Bill Barrow and Mark Scolforo, AP News, February 6, 2018.
Article: How redistricting became a technological arms race by Vann R. Newkirk II, The Atlantic, October 28, 2017.
Article: Government by Goldman by Gary Rivlin and Michael Hudson, The Intercept, September 17, 2017.
Article: The most gerrymandered states ranked by efficiency gap and seat advantage by Daniel McGlone and Esther Needham, Azavea, July 19, 2017.
Article: Here are the first 10 members of Trump's voting commission by Christopher Ingraham, The Washington Post, July 6, 2017.
Article: 3 Trump Cabinet officials will still be receiving millions from corporate America by Jeff Stein, Vox, February 3, 2017.
Article: Trump adviser Gary Cohn's $285 million Goldman Sachs exit raises eyebrows by Matt Egan, CNN Business, January 27, 2017.
Article: The IRS gives up on fighting 'dark money' by Editorial Board, The Washington Post, February 19, 2016.
Article: How Crossroads GPS beat the IRS and became a social welfare group by Robert Maguire, OpenSecrets.org, Febraury 12, 2016.
Blog: Congress uses PATH to cut IRS off from Section 501(c)(4) social welfare regulations, Wagenmaker & Oberly, December 30, 2015.
Article: This is the best explanation of gerrymandering you will ever see by Christopher Ingraham, The Washington Post, March 1, 2015.
Article: Five 501(c)(3) groups that might have broken the law by Lee Fang, The Nation, May 21, 2013.
Article: The voter-fraud myth by Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, October 29, 2012.
Article: Justice Dept. accused of partisan voter-roll purge by Pam Fessler, NPR, October 11, 2007.
Congressional Budget Office: H.R. 1, Estimated Effects on Direct Spending and Revenues
Federal Election Commission: Using Campaign Funds for Personal Use
How Stuff Works: PACs vs. Super PACs
Website: The Redistricting Majority Project
17:30 Rep. Elijah Cummings (D - MD) Title eight includes a bill that I introduced called the executive branch ethics reform act. It would, it would ban senior officials from accepting "golden parachute" payments from private sector employers in exchange for their government service. This would have prevented Gary Cohn from receiving more than $100 million in accelerated payments from Goldman Sachs while leading the Trump administration's efforts to slash corporate taxes.
19:00 Cummings Title eight also would make clear that Congress expects the president to divest his business holdings just as every single president since Jimmy Carter has done and place them in an independent and truly blind trust.
28:00 Rep. Jim Jordan (R - OH) In 2013 we learned that the IRS targeted conservative for their political beliefs during the 2012 election cycle systematically for a sustained period of time. They went after people for their conservative beliefs, plan in place, targeted people. They did it. The gross abuse of power would have continued, if not for the efforts of this committee. 2014 the Obama Administration doubled down and attempted to use the IRS rule making process to gut the ability of social welfare organizations to participate in public debate. Congress has so far prevented this regulation from going into effect, but HR 1 would change that.
28:30 Jordan Furthermore, this bill would roll back another critical victory for privacy and free speech secured just last summer following efforts by this committee and others, the IRS changed its policy as it relates to schedule B information. Schedule B contains personal information like names, addresses, and the amounts donated to nonprofit entities. Even though this information is supposed to remain private under current law, states and federal government have leaked these personal details in the past. In changing its policies, the IRS noted that there had been at least 14 breaches resulting in the unauthorized disclosure of schedule B information just since 2010. The result was everyday Americans receiving death threats and mail containing white powder. All because someone disagreed with what they believe and who they gave their hard earned money to.
59:00 Walter Schaub HR 1 addresses big payouts to incoming officials. These golden parachutes raise concerns about an employee appointees loyalty to a former employer. When former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew left Wall Street to join the State Department, he received a large bonus in his employment agreement. Let him keep that bonus specifically because he landed at a high level government job.
1:04:00 Bradley Smith Subtitle B of title six is called Stopping Super PAC and candidate coordination. The sponsors and drafters are either being intentionally disingenuous here or are they simply do not understand what has been put into their own legislation. Nothing in subtitle B, nothing limits. It's reached a super PACs. It applies to every union trade association, advocacy group and unincorporated association in the country. It applies to planned parenthood and right to life, to the NAACP and the ACLU to the national federation of Independent Business and to the Brady Campaign for gun safety. It even applies to individual citizens who seek to participate in public discussion. Nothing. This cannot be said often enough limits it to super PACs through the interplay of its definitions of coordination and coordinated spenders. The laws treatment, uh, traditional treatment of coordinated spending as a contribution to a candidate and current contribution limits in the law. Subtitle be, will actually have the effect of banning, not limiting, but actually banning a great deal of speech that was legal even before the Supreme Court's decision in citizens United versus FEC and Buckley v Vallejo.
1:39:00 Smith I would only add that I think that the disclosure provisions are often worse than people think because they're defining as political activity things that have never been defined as political before. And you run the risk of a regulation swallowing up the entire, uh, discourse in which public, uh, engages. So I would only say that I think the provisions are worse than people think and that they're often hidden through the complex interrelationship of different positions. Well, one, one example would be if an organization, uh, for example, were to hire somebody who had previously been an intern, a paid intern for a member of Congress, that organization would then be prohibited from making any communications that were deemed to promote a tax support or oppose a that candidate. And that vague term could apply to almost anything praising the candidate for introducing a bill, uh, criticizing the congressman for opposing a bill, whatever it might be. Jordan Wow. That put the whole consultant business in this town out of business, it seems to me. Smith It's not just the consulting business. Oh, of course. It puts out of business all of the interest groups and all of the civic groups that people belong to.
1:43:00 Cummings One year ago today when my mother's dying bed at 92 years old, former sharecropper, her last words were, do not let them take our votes away from us. They had fought, she had fought and seen people harmed and beaten, trying to vote. Talk about inalienable rights. Voting is crucial, and I don't give a damn how you look at it. There are efforts to stop people from voting. That's not right. This is not Russia. This is the United States of America, and I will fight until the death to make sure every citizen, whether they're Green party, whether they're Freedom Party, whether they're Democrat, whether you're Republican, whoever has that right to vote.
1:46:00 Karen Hobert Flynn Election day registration is a perfect antidote to a purge so that you can show up on election day. If you see that there's a problem, then you can register to vote and vote on that day.
2:19:00 Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R - ND) North Dakota is the only state in the country without voter registration. We have voting. We have counties that vote exclusively by mail, and we currently have no excuse, absentee ballot, absentee voting. We have, we allow felons to vote immediately upon release from prison. Um, our poll workers are almost exclusively volunteers across the entire state. So in short, we have the, the best and easiest vote voting, voting booth access in the entire country, and we are incredibly proud of that.
2:23:00 Armstrong North, we, and this might be a little change, but it's really important to the voters in North Dakota. So we, uh, we start our absentee or early voting process, I think for military deployed overseas, it says early as August. And we have, as I said, no excuse absentee ballots. But what we require is that our ballots are postmarked the day before the election. And in North Dakota, we really, really try to make sure the election is over on election day. Um, north Dakotans don't understand how an election can change by 12, 13, 14,000 votes in the two to three weeks after an election day. Now I'm not in the business and telling people in California or somewhere else how to do their voting laws, but that just is something that is not appropriate here. And this would require ballots to be postmarked up until election day, correct? That's correct.
2:24:00 Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) I wish Mr. Meadows were still here because I'm delighted that he's thinking of stepping into the small donor matching system that has proposed an HR 1. Because when you step into that system, you step into a system that is owned by the people. This is why it's in the bill because the public is tired of feeling like their elections, their system, their government, their democracy is owned by special interests, big corporations, Wall Street, oil and gas industry, super PACs, lobbyists, everybody. But then this is the power move. They want to own their democracy again.
2:27:00 Sarbanes Somebody said, why are we hooking all these things together? Voting ethics, campaign finance, because the people have told us, if you just do one and you don't do the others were still frozen out. The system is still rigged. You fix the voting stuff, but if you go to Washington and nobody's behaving themselves, that doesn't solve the problem or you fix the ethics part, but we're still, the system is still owned by the big money in the special interests because they're the ones that are underwriting the campaigns. Then we're still left out. The system is still rigged. You got to do all of these things together to reset the democracy in a place where it respects the average citizen out there. Who right now is sitting in their kitchen, they're looking at the TV screen there. They're hearing about billionaires and super PACs who are making decisions inside conference rooms somewhere on K Street that affect their lives and all they're saying is we want back in. We're tired of sitting out here with our nose is pressed against the window looking in on the democracy that we have no impact on. That's why we're linking all of these things together to reset the table. So the special interests aren't the ones that are calling the shots.
2:29:00 Sarbanes The provisions of transparency in this bill are targeted to mega donors who give more than $10,000 who right now are hidden behind this Russian doll kind of structure where you can't see who it is, who's behind the curtain, who's putting all this money into campaigns. The public wants to know that that's reasonable.
2:38:00 Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) And I'm deeply troubled at what appears to be a Russian engagement through 501(c)(4)s in this country, whether it's the NRA or, um, other, uh, nonprofits that are created for the express purpose here in the United States to lobby on behalf of Russia as it related to the Magnitsky Act. Um, so right now there is no limitation on how much money can be contributed by a foreign government entity to a 501(c)(4). Is that correct? Hobert Flynn I believe that is, yes. Speier And there is no disclosure required as well. Is that correct? Hobert Flynn I believe that's right. Speier So in your estimation, would it be prudent for us to one, limit the amount of contributions that a foreign individual can make to a 501(c)(4), and two, that all of that be subject to disclosure? Hobert Flynn Yeah, I think, I think it would be very important. Um, you know, there are limits. There are bans on foreign nationals giving money in campaign contributions, and I think we should be looking at those kinds of limits for, um, and it's certainly disclosure for, um, contributions to 501(c)(4)s.
2:56:00 Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH) You hear so much attack on political action committees, PACs, Mr. Smith, or maybe you'd be best one to answer this. I don't know, maybe I don't want us to answer it. Where do political action committees get their money? Smith Political action committees get their money from individuals. Traditional PACs do. Now Super PACS as they're called, can take money from corporations and unions, but they are not able to contribute directly to candidates. Sort of coordinate anything with candidates. Gibbs I appreciate that. Uh, make the point. Um, because I, I got attacked because I take political action money, but it comes from businesses in my district. A lot of it, it comes from associations. You know, everybody has somebody lobbying for them in DC. I mean, if you're, if you're a member, of a retirement association, any organization, you've got a lobbyist here.
2:57:00 Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) Let's play a game, let's play a lightening round game. I'm going to be the bad guy, which I'm sure half the room would agree with anyway. And um, and I want to get away with as much bad things as possible, ideally to enrich myself and advance my interest even if that means putting, uh, putting my interests ahead of the American people. So, um, Mrs Holbert Flynn. Oh, and by the way, I have listed all of you as my co conspirators, so you're going to help me legally get away with all of this. So Mrs Herbert Flynn, I want to run, if I want to run a campaign that is entirely funded by corporate political action committees, is that, is there anything that legally prevents me from doing that? Hobert Flynn No. Ocasio-Cortez Okay. So there's nothing stopping me from being entirely funded by corporate PACs, say from the fossil fuel industry, the healthcare industry, big Pharma. I'm entirely 100% lobbyists PAC funded. Okay. So let's see. I'm a really, really bad guy and let's see, I've have some skeletons in my closet that I need to cover it up so that I can get elected. Um, Mr. Smith, is it true that you wrote this article, this opinion piece for the Washington Post entitled These Payments to Women Were Unseemly? That doesn't mean they were illegal. Smith Well, I can't see the piece but I wrote a piece or that headline in the post's so I assume that's right. Ocasio-Cortez Okay, great. So green-light for hush money, I can do all sorts of terrible things. It's totally legal right now for me to pay people off and that is considered speech. That money is considered speech. So I use my special interest, dark money funded campaign to pay off folks that I need to pay off and get elected. So now I'm elected, now I'm in, I've got the power to draft, lobby and shape the laws that govern the United States of America. Fabulous. Now is there any hard limit that I have, perhaps Mrs Herbert Flynn? Is there any hard limit that I have in terms of what legislation I'm allowed to touch? Are there any limits on the laws that I can write or influence? Especially if I'm a based on the special interest funds that I accepted to finance my campaign and get me elected in the first place. Herbert Flynn There's no limit. Ocasio-Cortez So there's none. So I can be totally funded by oil and gas that can be totally funded by big Pharma come in. Right. Big Pharma laws and there's no limits to that whatsoever. Herbert Flynn That's right. Ocasio-Cortez Okay, so awesome. Now, uh, now Mr Mehrabani, the last thing I want to do is get rich with as little work possible. That's really what I'm trying to do as the bad guy. Right? So is there anything preventing me from holding stocks say in an oil or gas company and then writing laws to deregulate that that industry and cause you know, that could potentially cause the stock value to soar and accrue a lot of money in that time, Rudy Mehrbani You could do that. Ocasio-Cortez So I could do that. I could do that. Now with the way our current laws are set up. Yes? Mehrbani Yes. Ocasio-Cortez Okay, great. Okay. So my last question is, or one of my last questions, I guess I'd say is, is it possible that any elements of this story apply to our current government in our current public servants right now? Mehrbani Yes. Ocasio-Cortez So we have a system that is fundamentally broken. We have these influences existing in this body, which means that these influences are here in this committee shaping the questions that are being asked of you all right now. Would you say that that's correct, Mr Mehrbani or Mr Shaub? Mehrbani Yes. Ocasio-Cortez Alright. So one last thing, Mr Shaub, in relation to congressional oversight that we have, the limits that are placed on me as a congress woman compared to the executive branch and compared to say, the president of the United States, would you say that Congress has the same sort of standard of accountability? Are there, is there more teeth in that regulation in Congress on the president? Or would you say it's about even or more so on the federal? Schaub Um, in terms of laws that apply to the president, there's just almost no laws at all that applied to the president. Ocasio-Cortez So I'm being held and every person in this body is being held to a higher ethical standard than the president of the United States. Schaub That's right. Cause or some committee ethics committee rules that apply to you. Ocasio-Cortez And it's already super legal as we've seen for me to be a pretty bad guy. So it's even easier for the president of the United States to be one, I would assume. Schaub That's right. Ocasio-Cortez Thank you very much.
3:04:00 Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) Uh, and when we think about what we're dealing with, with respect to a campaign finance, uh, are you familiar with doxing? Smith In the sense of outing people online that you're referring to? Yes, generally. Roy So for example, are you familiar with a Twitter account called every Trump donor, which tweeted out one by one, the names, hometowns, occupations, employers, the people who contribute as little as $200 to the president's campaign, each tweet, following a particular formula. My point being in the question for you is, when we talk about campaign disclosures, are we aware of the negative impacts that you have on forcing American citizens and exercising their free speech to have that information be disclosed? Whether that's good policy or not might be debatable, but is there, are there negative consequences to that with respect to free speech given you're an expert on free speech? Smith There are, and there are definitely studies that have shown that disclosure does tend to decrease participation. Now, that doesn't mean as you point out that it's not worth it, but it certainly has costs. And so we have to be careful on how broad we would let that disclosure become.
3:11:00 Scott Amey The law is created that has cooling off periods. And so there's no cooling off period of one year or two year or a permanent bans. HR 1 would move a lot of those to two years I think, which would be beneficial. And there's even disagreement in our community whether one year or two, you know, what is the appropriate time to kind of cool off so that your contacts aren't there. But this is also something that President Trump brought up when he was a candidate. He talked about, uh, I think it was Boeing at the time, but he went on record saying that people who give contracts should never be able to work for that defense contractor. This isn't a bipartisan, this is a bipartisan issue. This is something we can resolve. The laws are already on the books. We just need some extensions in some tweaking of those to improve them and allow people to cool off and not be able to provide a competitive advantage to their new employer or favor them as they're in office and they're walking out the door. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) And so you do believe that extending this cooling off period and strengthening these prohibitions would protect the integrity of the process and helped to reign in these flagrant abuses. Amey 100% in one of the nice things with HR 1 is there is an extension of a cooling off period for people coming into government service. Currently it exists and it's uh, it's one year. This will move it to two and I think that's a probably better place to be in. You shouldn't be handling issues that involve your former employer or clients. Pressley One final question. How might these cozy relationships between government officials and corporate leaders or private contractors help to boost profits for these prison and detention centers? Amey Well, certainly they go with a lot of information, uh, when, when they go over to the private sector. But it also allows them to get back into their former office and within their former agency and call on them. Access as, as you were just pointing out, access is everything in this town. And so if you can get your phone calls answered, if you can get emails read, if you get meetings at that point, that can, not only with members of Congress, but with agency heads that can determine who gets contracts. I mean, it does trickle down from the top and we need to make sure that we prevent as many like actual and also appearances of conflicts of interest as we can.
3:17:00 Rep. Carol D. Miller (R-WV) What impact would the passage of this legislation have on those groups that are not political but may put out policy oriented communications? Smith It would be very curious and I've given a number of examples in the written testimony. I just say that I should add to this of course that the bill includes personal liability for officers and directors of some of these organizations. So you need to almost have to be crazy to let your organization get anywhere close to this promote support attack opposed standard. And again, what does that mean as I suggested? Well, you know, again, uh, government union might take out an ad maybe in a month, right? Or three weeks from now saying don't let president Trump, we shouldn't have to pay because he wants his wall in Mexico, you know, so, so tell them to reopen the government. Is that an attack on president Trump? I think that's the kind of thing that, that folks would not know and would make people very hesitant to run that kind of ad. Miller So it is a personal risk as well. Smith Yes. Yes. Not only risk. Plus it would be a risk, by the way, as well, to the tax status of some of the organizations involved in many of these organizations might have some type of tax status. 501(c)(3) organizations would have to be very careful because if they engage in speech that is now defined as political speech, 501(c)(3) organizations can't engage in political speech. They would jeopardize their tax exempt status. So that's another reason that these organizations would stay far clear of commenting on any kind of public issue.
10:45 Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) The official title of this bill is The For The People Act. This bill though is not for the people. It's not for everyday citizens. This bill siphons power from state legislatures, local elected officials and voters, and seeds, power to Washington lawmakers, unelected federal judges and lawyers. This bill is in particular for the unelected elites. It's for the people who don't answer directly to the voters. Contrary to it's name, this bill takes power away from the people and it does this by violating the constitution, by trampling over both the spirit and the letter of our most fundamental laws.
32:00 Sherrilyn Ifill Well before the midterm election, in fact, Georgia officials began placing additional burdens on voters, particularly black and Latino voters, by closing precincts and purging. Over half a million people from the voter rolls the voter purge, which removed 107,000 people, simply because they did not vote in previous elections and respond to a mailing was overseen by the Republican candidate for governor Brian Kemp, who was also the secretary of state. LDF and a chorus of others called on him to recuse himself from participating in the election. But he refused.
1:08:00 Ifill I think, I think the problem we have is that you know, when we begin talking about the powers between the federal and the state government as it relates to elections, it is of course critical that we look to the constitution and that we look to the articles of the constitution that govern elections. But what we have left out of the conversation at least to this moment is the reordering of the relationship between the federal and state government that came with the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments and the 14th and 15th amendments in particular. The 14th amendment guaranteeing equal protection of laws under, the 15th Amendment prohibiting the denial of the right to vote based on race. National origin includes enforcement clauses that gives this body, the United States Congress, the power to enforce the rights that are articulated in those amendments to the constitution. And it is those amendments to the constitution that provided this body the right, for example, to pass laws like the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for which all the same arguments that are being made today about the power of the states, about interference, about what the federal government is allowed to do and not allowed to do were raised and overcome. So the federal government actually does have the power when there is evidence and when they are enforcing the rights under the 14th and 15th, amendments to actually, your word would be interfere, but to engage robustly, in the protection of the voting rights of racial minorities.
1:15:00 Vanita Gupta There are over 13,000 election jurisdictions in our country, and elections can be run in a multitude of ways, but it is clear that Congress has the authority to make sure that civil rights are not violated in the course of running these elections. And that there are, there are equitable national standards to guide how this has done. And that is exactly what HR 1 does.
1:26:00 Ifill Let me use as an example. Texas has voter I.D. law from your own state the voter I.D. law that Texas imposed after the Shelby decision as a voter I.D. law that they had attempted to get pre-clearance prior to the Shelby decision and pre-clearance was denied, in other words they were not allowed to make that law, become real because of the pre-clearance requirement. After Shelby, the Attorney General, decided that they were going to move forward with that law. It was imposed. We sued. We challenged that law and we won. But in the three years that it took us to litigate that case during that time Texas elected a United States senator in 2014. All 36 members of the Texas delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives, the governor, the lieutenant governor, the attorney general, the comptroller, various statewide commissioners, four justices of the Texas Supreme Court. Candidates for special election in the state Senate State Boards of Education 16 state senators all 150 members of the statehouse over 175 state court trial judges and over 75 district attorneys. We proved at trial that more than half a million eligible voters were disenfranchised by the I.D. law. We were ultimately successful in challenging but it was too late for those elections and this was a scheme that had been denied pre-clearance. This is the kind of thing that undermines confidence in our electoral system and that threatens our democracy. What excuse can we have as a nation for disenfranchising over half a million voters from all of the elections I just described.
1:35:00 Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) Where are the states, Ms. Ifill, that have most of the states that have prohibitions on people having the APP for you to vote if they've committed a felony? Ifill Well, they have been all over the country, but certainly there was a concentration in the south. As you may know, some of the history of these laws emanated, at the turn of the 19th century, I guess the turn of the 20th century, after southern states received back their power, they pass new constitutions. This is after the civil war and after reconstruction around 1900 and we saw the expansion of ex felon voting restrictions in state constitutions during that period, when there was a very robust effort to try and disenfranchise, at that point, newly freed slaves who had been free for several decades.
2:05:00 Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) It contains a provision where federal tax dollars from hardworking middle class families and single mothers would be lining the pockets of politicians to pay for nasty TV ads and robo calls and paying for politicians, personal childcare and healthcare. Under this bill, it's estimated that at least $3.9 billion of taxpayer dollars would line the pockets of house congressional candidates based on estimates from Bloomberg and an estimated $6.25 billion with line the pockets of presidential candidates based on the formula in this bill and the 2016 election, for a total of $10.1 billion of taxpayer dollars. To me, this is an outrageous, outrageous use of taxpayer dollars.
2:23:00 Hans Von Spakovsky This provision of HR 1 says that if a commission is not established, or if it doesn't adopt a plan, then, the redistricting lines for Congress will be drawn up by a three judge federal court. Now, yeah, the courts get involved, federal courts get involved and redistricting, but they only get involved when there has been a violation of the voting rights act because there's been discrimination in drawing the lines or because the equal protection doctrine of the 14th amendment, one person, one vote, has been violated because the districts aren't equal enough and that's appropriate. And courts do that. But this bill would give the judicial branch the ability to draw up lines when there's, there's been no such violation. And so they're, in essence, you're taking a power of the constitution gives to the legislative branch and you're giving it to the judicial branch.
2:52:00 Gupta Well, our recourse used to be that changes in local voting patterns would be reported to the Justice Department and there would be recourse for the Justice Department to ensure that racial discrimination was not animating these changes and preventing people from exercising their franchise. As we said, in 2013, the United States supreme court gutted that key tool of the voting rights act. And it is why HR 1 is such an important, uh, act in order to restore the voting rights act and to restore the ability of the Justice Department and federal courts to actually prevent these kinds of nefarious actions from taking place before elections. Uh, litigation is crucial and groups that have risen to the challenge to, to file section two cases, but they are time intensive and they occur after elections after people have already been disenfranchised and can take years to come to adjudication during which elections are taking place. And so that is why, uh, it is incumbent and unnecessary for Congress to restore the provisions of the voting rights act. Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA) So HR 1 will help protect the rights of my American citizens to vote before the election. Gupta HR 1, yes, expresses a commitment to restoring the voting rights act, and, uh, and that is what we hope to achieve in this congress. It is HR 1 also contains a slew of protections that have become proxies for racial discrimination around list maintenance and unwarranted voter purging. Hr 1 seeks to remedy those so that, uh, so that people can have their rights guaranteed before elections take place.
3:25:00 Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) And I have to tell you after that, being in Congress for six years, uh, I have come to find that there are so many issues that uh, my republican colleagues and I agree on and that the American people agree that we've reached consensus on it and that ranges from reducing gun violence to addressing climate change, to finding healthcare solutions. But my constituents ask and people I encounter across the country always ask, if we've reached consensus where 90% of Americans think we should have background checks. Majority of Americans believe that climate change is happening. 90% of Americans think we should have the Dream Act. Why can't you guys even vote on these issues? And I've concluded that it's the dirty maps and the dirty money. It is rigged gerrymandered maps where politicians from both parties protect their friends and the status quo and it's the outside unlimited nontransparent money, where Republican colleagues have told me, I am with you on this issue -and I've had someone say this to me - I am afraid about how I'm going to be scored, meaning that these outside groups, we'll give scores based on how you vote and if you're not with them, they'll primary you with more money in an unlimited way. And then that's poisoning our politics and preventing us from reaching consensus.
3:27:00 Swalwell I want to start with Miss Ifill, and if it's OK I want to call you Professor Ifill because I don't know if you remember you were my civil procedure professor at the University of Maryland. You wouldn't remember me I remember you. I was not a standout student at all but Miss Ifill according to your testimony Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act would have prevented some of the voter suppression schemes that we have encountered over the past five years. And I was hoping you could articulate some of those schemes today. Ifill Yeah just a few of them. Earlier I spoke about Texas's voter I.D. law, an I.D. law that had been denied pre-clearance prior to the Shelby decision. Two hours after the Shelby decision the attorney general of Texas tweeted out his intention to resuscitate that law which he did. And we spent three years litigating it. We ultimately prevailed, but in the ensuing three years there were elections for all kinds of offices a law that clearly could not have survived pre-clearance. Just in 2018 we were on the ground in Georgia on election day doing election protection work in Grady County, the polling place had been changed two weeks prior to the election. A notice had been placed in a very small community newspaper but otherwise there was not real notice provided to the community and so people arrived at the old polling place and community residents had to spend the day standing outside the old polling place directing people to the place of the new polling place that had not been properly identified Under Section 5, the moving of a polling place is the kind of thing that you had to submit to pre-clearance and have it approved by the Justice Department before it could be implemented. Now there are a number of people that day who could drive to the new polling place but there were a number of people who had just taken off work and had a limited amount of time to vote and could not drive to the new polling place and so went back to work and were unable to participate in the political process. Those are just two small examples - well, one big and one small - but both consequential of the kinds of changes that would very easily have been averted and the problems that would have been averted had Section 5 been in place wouldn't have required litigation would have simply required a review by the Department of Justice and an opportunity for the community to resist that change or at least be informed of that change in a timely way.
3:28:30 Swalwell As I understand it, and correct me if I'm wrong, if a candidate contacts a donor and tells the donor that there's ABC Super PAC working on my behalf, that candidate can solicit a contribution up to the maximum that candidate could receive federally. So I think it's $2,700 today. But I, as I understand it, there's no disclosure requirement by that candidate that they made that ask. And of course there's no way to know if the donor made the contribution or not because of the lack of transparency. Is that something that you think maybe we should address? Is having the candidates affirmatively, you know, tell the public that they've made requests for Super PAC a help? Adav Noti That's correct, congressman, but I would go farther than that. Candidates should not be soliciting for Super PACs. Period. Swalwell Agreed. But the FEC allows that today. Noti Currently the FEC allows that. The FEC probably has the authority to put an end to it. Congress certainly has the authority to put an end to it as an implementation of citizens United. But if it's going to be happening, yes, the public should certainly be aware. Um, and, and journalists and law enforcement should be aware that that is happening.
3:45:00 Gupta There is a reason why voters in red and blue states in 2018 voted for independent to create independent redistricting commissions around the country. I think people are fed up with the king that the parties can own their voters. And in fact, voters want to be able to choose their politicians, not have politicians choose their voters. In 2015, the United States supreme court decided that it was perfectly consistent with the constitution to make sure that legislators weren't drawing their own lines. We stand unique in the world for allowing that kind of thing to happen. Gerrymandering is a uniquely American phenomenon and yet HR 1 really goes a long way to prevent intentional manipulation of district lines for partisan advantage. And it goes through a very carefully calibrated and described process of having five Democrats, five Republicans, five Independents , all randomly chosen from a pool of applicants, sit on an independent commission. There's specific criteria about how a district lines would get drawn in a plan would need majority support to be enacted, including the backing of at least one Democrat, one Republican, and one independent.
4:03:00 Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA) Just one year ago, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, uh, said that our congressional lines were palpably gerrymandered, palpably unconstitutional. And so I'm a little baffled again by my colleague on the other side of the aisle from Pennsylvania who found that to be a troubling decision. It was a constitutionally based decision, uh, and I frankly wouldn't be here if it weren't for that supreme court decision, which rectified a 13 to five, delegation in Pennsylvania, to a nine, nine matching our voter registration.
4:07:00 Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL) Florida was one of the states that required pre-clearance before the Shelby county decision. Can you provide us with an example of a change to the voting laws in Florida that were enacted since the decision and what sort of impact it's had there? Gupta Thank you, Congresswoman. There have been a significant number of poll site closures in the State of Florida, which have created a lot of issues around long lines and accessibility of poll sites. These kinds of changes, as I said, they seem minor because they happen in different places and they're small in, in uh, you know, just closing up poll site doesn't seem like it would, would rise to some kind of nefarious effort, but taken collectively, the Justice Department was unable to have any clear indication of what was happening with a number of poll sites being closed locally. And that's the kind of thing where those kinds of changes would have been pre-cleared or not by the Justice Department to prevent racial discrimination. There are any number of these kinds of minor and major changes that Florida has made since the Shelby County decision that have not been detected by the Justice Department as a result of the Shelby county decision. And these are the things that ultimately corrode people's confidence in the government and in elections and make people decide to opt out of voting all together is when they feel like their vote won't be counted or that the system is so rigged against them that there is no kind of accountability for the kinds of these local changes and subtle, more subtle changes that are getting made in previously pre-cleared jurisdictions.
4:09:00 Ifill As I understand it, in Florida, for example, formerly incarcerated persons can contribute to campaigns, which means a wealthy former felon like Jeffrey Epstein, who's been in the news very much, can and does contribute large sums of money to political campaigns. I'm not sure why we would regard someone who had served their time for a crime that they had committed and been convicted of voting. Why we would consider that more pernicious than the ability to contribute to campaigns. We live in an American system of justice in which once you have paid your debt to society, you should be restored as a citizen. That means that you should be able to get a driver's license. That means that you should be able to get a job. That means that you shouldn't be banned by the misuse of criminal backgrounds checks from being able to do a job. And it also means that you ought to be able to cloak yourself in the ultimate expression of citizenship in a democracy, which is the ability to cast a ballot and vote. So I don't see the making a distinction in terms of the crime. Our criminal justice system should ensure that someone is released only when we feel confident that that person is no longer a threat to society. And if our criminal justice system has made that determination, then it seems to me it's entirely appropriate for that person to return. And also receive the franchise along with their other citizenship rights.
4:14:00 Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) Let me just kind of remind you about black and brown people who simply wanted to exercise the right to vote were many of them were the victims of hangings, beatings, burnings, bombings, dismemberments, disfigurements, all for wanting to exercise their basic right to vote. And then when America became more sophisticated, we move from physical harming to poll tax and literacy tests. Questions like how many bubbles are on a bar soap or how many feathers on a duck. We farther in the greatest country in the world did everything that we could, those who were in decision making positions to humiliate, to embarrass, to disenfranchise, how long will we have to still as we sit here in 2019 continue to have to defend a person's right to cast their vote. The good men who made the decision and women with the voter's rights act of 1965 didn't do so because there wasn't a problem. And when we talk about that was old and that's in the past. No, that was in my lifetime. And it was actually in the lifetime of several of the members who sit here on this panel. They did so because there was a significant problem, particularly in southern states for which I am a representative of one of them. And so if we're serious about America being the greatest country in the world, then we all should play a role in making it easier for our citizens, regardless of their race, their sexual orientation, their gender, to exercise that basic. Right.
4:15:00 Gupta Independent redistricting commissions exists right now. For example, in California, Arizona, Colorado. Uh, we heard from members of Congress in Pennsylvania talk about the ruling that declare that the way that Pennsylvania was drawing district lines was tantamount to unlawful gerrymandering. They will now also have an independent commission. A number of states in November, just this past November, red states, blue states actually created independent redistricting commissions out of a recognition that voters frankly, are fed up with, with unlawful gerrymandering. These redistricting commissions, they've been authorized by the Supreme Court that the, which, as I said, decided that it is perfectly okay for, for, um, legislators to make sure that they are participating in the, in the drawing of their boundary lines. And in places like California, Arizona, and Colorado, that have had these commissions for a while, we have seen, improvements and representation and competitiveness of elections and in voter trust. And so this is why these provisions in HR 1 are so important.
See Community Suggestions HERE.
Design by Only Child Imaginations