Posted by 02 January 2019
On their first day in control of the House of Representatives, Democrats plan on tackling two issues that they think will be winners for them: campaign finance reform and stricter ethics rules. They know that their legislation has no chance of becoming law, but they think its passage will send a message that they plan on doing things differently.
In the weeks after the 2018 elections when voters elected a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi announced that the first legislation the House would vote on in January would be a sweeping set of campaign and ethics reforms. This has been introduced as HR 1. Among other things, this bill would:
- Establish a voluntary system of campaign matching funds at a rate of 6-1 for small donations to qualifying candidates
- Mandate that certain nonprofits engaged in public policy debate report their donors to the government
- Mandate that social media companies disclose to the government the source of money being spent on political advocacy ads
- Require that the president disclose his or her tax returns
- End the practice where members of Congress can use office funds to pay for sexual harassment suits
- Prohibit office funds from being used to purchase first-class plane tickets
- Impose a new ethics code on the Supreme Court
- Enact a national system of automatic voter registration
- Prohibit states from removing certain names from their voting rolls
The Democrats pushing this legislation argue that it is needed to restore trust in government and end practices that have allowed politicians to game the system. They say that it will open the door for more people to vote and to curb the influence of big money in politics. Opponents counter that it would enlarge the power of the federal government over elections, something that the Constitution largely gives to states. They also say that this will lead to more government control over what people can say during elections and is an infringement upon the First Amendment.
The House of Representatives plans to vote on this after new members are sworn in on January 3. The Senate is unlikely to consider the legislation if it passes the House.
Do you think that the federal government should enact automatic voter registration in every state? Should nonprofits that engage in political advocacy have to report their donors’ names to the government? Do you support a program that gives federal matching funds to candidates for small political donations?