Lawmakers Should Reject H.R. 1, the "For the People Act"

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Posted by Isabelle Morales on Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021, 2:25 PM PERMALINK

As soon as this week, the House of Representatives is set to vote on H.R. 1, the "For the People Act." In the coming weeks and months, the law is also expected to be taken up by the Senate. H.R. 1, a top priority for Congressional Democrats, is an 800-page bill filled with partisan policies to rig the system in favor of the Left. 

This proposal would fundamentally transform how elections are conducted in the United States, would politicize the Federal Elections Commission, would create taxpayer-funded candidates, and would directly violate constitutional mandates like free speech and states’ freedom to determine their own election laws. Congress must reject this dangerous piece of legislation. 

Instead of working within our institutions, Democrats have taken to attacking the institutions themselves when they do not produce the left's preferred outcome. When they didn't like the composition of the Supreme Court, they threatened to pack it. When they couldn't convince enough of the legislature of an idea, they fought to repeal the filibuster. Now, because they do not want to lose the presidency or their majorities in the House and Senate, they are working to pass H.R. 1. 

See Also: Key Vote: ATR Urges NO Vote on H.R. 1, the "For the People Act"

H.R. 1 would unconstitutionally undermine state election oversight. Article I Section IV of the U.S. Constitution empowers states to determine the “Times, Places and Manner of holding elections…” By nullifying several state election laws, H.R. 1 would make significant strides in stripping states of this enumerated power.

It would force states to implement early voting, automatic voter registration, same-day registration, online voter registration, and no-fault absentee balloting.It eliminates any restrictions on vote-by-mail. Additionally, the bill would invalidate voter identification laws all across the country by allowing voters to simply sign a statement affirming their identity as they enter their polling place.

H.R. 1 would create taxpayer-funded candidates. Taxpayers would be on the hook for matching 600% of campaign contributions to subsidize candidates they may disagree with – a practice that has been ripe for corruption, despite having the intentions of reducing corruption. 

Thomas Jefferson once said: “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” In this way, it could be described as compelled speech. Especially because it will almost certainly propagate one political party (the Democratic party) over the other upon implementation.  

Taxpayers should not be forced to fund campaigns they find disagreeable. In fact, they shouldn’t be forced to fund campaigns they agree with. Americans’ ability to choose to or refuse to participate in politics has always been a foundational principle in the United States.  

H.R. 1 suppresses free speech. First, it empowers federal regulators to categorize and regulate speech, including online speech. It does so by undoing the FEC’s “internet exemption” which excludes the internet from regulation of political speech. This exposes online communication to the same scrutiny as traditional advertisements. 

The law also invents a new regulation called “PASO,” an overbroad standard that asks whether political speech “promotes,” “attacks,” “supports,” or “opposes” a federal candidate or official. Besides the blatant unconstitutionality of this regulation, it is also so unclear and broad that it can be used as a weapon by whichever political party is in power. As Rich Lowry explains, the current law “limits expenditures that expressly advocate for the election or defeat of a candidate, or refer to a candidate in public advertising shortly before an election.”

Any and all political, nonelectoral messages can be framed as something which promotes, attacks, supports, or opposes a candidate. Under this law, the party in power can frame their opponents’ political speech this way and subsequently limit their opponents’ speech. 

Additionally, the bill transforms the “stand by your ad” disclaimer in video advertisements, forcing organizations to identify their top five donors at the end of advertisements. This represents a radical change in policy: currently, the “stand by your ad” provision simply requires a statement by the candidate or organization/corporation that they approve the communication. In addition, the bill mandates the disclosure of all the names and addresses of donors giving more than $10,000 to groups that engage in “campaign-related disbursements.” With the incredible rise in partisanship, cancel culture, and doxing, it is more important than ever to protect donor privacy.

Finally, H.R. 1 would politicize the FEC. Under current law, the FEC is comprised of a six-member bipartisan committee: three Republicans and three Democrats. In order to move forward with any prosecution of alleged campaign violations or investigations, the FEC needs four votes. This law would limit the member number to five, therefore including two Republicans, two Democrats, and one “independent” from a minor political party. Under this rule, a president could appoint a Bernie Sanders-style “independent” to serve as the fifth member of the FEC. To make matters worse, under this law, a president could also pick the Chairman of the FEC, all but ensuring total presidential control of the Commission. 

H.R. 1 is a dangerous piece of legislation. This legislation would suppress free speech, invalidate state laws, create taxpayer-funded candidates, and do nothing to help the economy or fight the Coronavirus pandemic. This Democrat power grab should be rejected.

Photo Credit: Martin Deutsch

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