Pelosi, Democrats Renew Push to Overhaul Election, Campaign Finance Laws
WASHINGTON — Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday she would press ahead early next year with a campaign finance and elections overhaul, even as the measure may face the same Senate fate it did this Congress: doom.
House Democrats passed their signature overhaul measure in March 2019 and dubbed it HR 1, indicating its priority. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked it in his chamber, however.
Even though the Senate majority for the 117th Congress hinges on two runoff elections in Georgia, Democrats and their outside allies said they would still push for the measure, spotlighting McConnell’s resistance.
“The strategy is to keep pointing out that McConnell is the one blocking the bill,” Maryland Rep. John Sarbanes, the lead sponsor of the overhaul measure, said Monday during a call with reporters. “He sort of crossed his arms on the Senate side from day one and said that this legislation will not see the light of day. That’s not a reason not to continue the fight and to amp it up, which is what we’re doing here.”
Sarbanes acknowledged that even with a Democrat in the White House, the measure’s future was uncertain. If Democrats had won the Senate majority outright, it would likely have been atop the chamber’s agenda in the new year. As it is, if Democrats win both Georgia Senate seats, the chamber would only be tied with a Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote.
“We don’t know when and how the opportunity to move this will present itself, but the key is to be ready,” Sarbanes said.
Pelosi and Sarbanes said during the call that they expect the House to move early next year to pass a bill similar to the current measure, which stretches hundreds of pages. It would set up an optional program to match contributions candidates receive from small donors with six times that amount from the government. It would also institute same-day voter registration and early voting nationwide, and impose new ethics requirements on government officials, among other provisions.
McConnell indicated Monday that his views have not changed on the big-scope overhaul.
“By every indication, the 2020 election appears to have been free from meaningful foreign interference,” the Kentucky Republican said in a statement put out by his office, referencing his comments from last week. “The absence of any reports of foreign interference is a ringing endorsement of our bipartisan work. And it slams the door on the embarrassing, irresponsible rhetoric that some Washington Democrats spent four years broadcasting.”
Still, Pelosi said she anticipated “a strong vote for this as early as possible in the new Congress.”
Even though a record number of Americans voted in the 2020 elections, members of the outside coalition pushing for the legislation said those voters had to overcome obstacles that the measure aims to remove.
McConnell’s office reupped his opposition from last year when he called the measure an “expensive partisan power grab” aimed at giving Democrats a leg up in future elections.
A coalition of 170 outside organizations, dubbed the Declaration for American Democracy, will continue to lobby for the package. The groups hail from the civil rights, gun control and political money movements and include the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, NAACP, March for Our Lives and Public Citizen.
Fred Wertheimer, who runs the campaign finance overhaul group Democracy 21, noted that the 2020 elections shattered previous spending records with an estimated price tag of some $14 billion, including $2.6 billion in outside spending. He said the public matching funds system was sorely needed.
“Without providing candidates with this alternative way to finance their campaigns, political money corruption in Washington will continue and only grow far worse,” he said.
(c)2020 CQ-Roll Call, Inc., All Rights Reserved
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC
In The News
For the first time in more than a decade, Republicans are waking up to a Washington where Democrats control the White House and Congress, adjusting to an era of diminished power, deep uncertainty and internal feuding. The shift to minority status is always difficult, prompting debates... Read More
BALTIMORE (AP) — When Joe Biden entered the White House as vice president, the economy was cratering. Job losses were mounting. Stocks were crashing. Millions of Americans were in the early stages of losing their homes to foreclosure as the housing bubble burst. Biden returns to... Read More
WASHINGTON - Russel Honoré, a retired lieutenant general best known for commanding the military relief effort in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, will lead an in-depth review of security at the U.S. Capitol Complex, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Friday. “Last week, we suffered a devastating... Read More
WASHINGTON - The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History has begun collecting items left behind by the protestors who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. The riot, stoked by President Donald Trump, left five people dead. It was the first time since the War... Read More
WILMINGTON, Del. - President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday night unveiled a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan intended to aid struggling Americans and businesses, bolster state and local governments, and dramatically ramp up the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine with a goal of reaching 100 million doses... Read More
WASHINGTON - The boxes were recognizable to anyone who has spent a little time on Capitol Hill. Even from a distance, the white circle and black star emblazoned on the box inspired mouth-watering visions of sauce and melted cheese to those in the know. And to... Read More