But the bill also became a vehicle for all kinds of government reforms – including proposals that have gotten bogged down in filibusters, partisan opposition, and even internal opposition from some Democrats over the past decade, such as far-reaching “dark money” disclosure rules and campaigns can raise their money.
Here are some of the provisions that are on the bill – and what might be next.
- 1 The voting department would revise the way federal elections are held
- 2 The sweeping proposal would also make major changes to campaign finance laws and government ethics
- 3 Parts of the bill have met with opposition in the past – sometimes from Democrats
- 4 The Democrats are taking another swing on suffrage with another law
The voting department would revise the way federal elections are held
The most highlighted section of the For the People Act would establish a set of required political mandates for voting in federal elections in each state. This includes mandatory online, automatic, same-day voter registration, which requires at least two weeks early voting and allows anyone to vote by mail without an apology. The bill would also require affidavits or student IDs to meet ID requirements for voting, including the use of paper ballots.
The Democrats have been pushing the voting section with increasing urgency since the 2020 elections as several Republican-controlled states passed bills that add new restrictions to their electoral systems. The policy would be the first major federal election overhaul since 2002. It has been repeatedly ridiculed by Republicans as a democratic “takeover” – and Manchin prominently cites the Republican opposition to the law as to why he cannot support it.
“The Democrats in Congress have proposed a comprehensive electoral reform bill called the For the People Act. This 800-page bill has found no Republican support. Why? “Manchin wrote in the Gazette-Mail.” The truth, I would argue, is that voting and electoral reforms carried out in a partisan manner will all but ensure that partisan divisions continue to deepen. “
The sweeping proposal would also make major changes to campaign finance laws and government ethics
While the bill has received widespread attention because of its voting impact, it also contains important campaign finance and ethics provisions drawn from a number of smaller democratic proposals made in recent years.
The bill includes the DISCLOSE Act, a decade-old proposal that would require more nonprofits that currently keep their donors secret to identify their donors and provide more details about their expenses when engaging in politics. Undisclosed political spending by nonprofits has been a booming business for the past decade: The Center for Responsive Politics, a campaign fund watchdog group, Tracked more than $ 1 billion in “dark money” spending from unknown donors in the 2020 elections.
MR. 1 would also breathe new life into the public funding system for presidential campaigns and create a new one for congressional elections, and it would overhaul the Federal Election Commission, the perennially deadlocked agency responsible for overseeing campaign funding laws.
Meanwhile, the ethics section specifically targets some of the behaviors of former President Donald Trump: some would require presidents and vice-presidents to publicly disclose their tax returns and “dispose of any financial interests” that constitute a conflict of interest.
It would also expand the rules on who has to register as a lobbyist, set new rules for when executive officials must retire, crack down on many types of foreign lobbying, and make federal government employees wait longer – two years instead of one – lobbyists after they have given up their government posts.
Parts of the bill have met with opposition in the past – sometimes from Democrats
Manchin’s comment did not cite specific provisions of the legislation that he opposed, but he has described the bill as “too broad” in the past. In fact, other Democrats have also quietly raised concerns about parts of the bill. Another electoral provision in the law would require that redistribution, the process of redefining the state’s congressional lines, be carried out by an independent commission rather than state lawmakers.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus said they fear that unlike the partisan process, even in red states, independent commissions could water down the representation of black voters in Congress. Ultimately, MP Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) Was the only Democrat in the House of Representatives against H.R. 1 voted and said: “My constituents are against the redistribution of the draft law”. in a statement at the time.
Some election administrators who support the principles of the bill also have expressed concerns about how they would implement it. Proponents of the package argue that given the (unlikely) chance of it becoming law, these concerns could be addressed in a conference committee.
As for campaign funding, public campaign funding ideas have made some Democrats in Congress squeamish and even appeared on the occasional Republican political ads, even though the legislation has not yet become law. And an unusual coalition has formed against the proposed disclosure requirements for nonprofits, from conservative organizations like the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity to the American Civil Liberties Union, which has argued argue this broad disclosure language could “run the risk of deterring public discussion”.
The Democrats are taking another swing on suffrage with another law
While Manchin seems to have dashed the proponents’ weak hopes that the law will be passed for the people, he has backed another, important piece of democratic electoral law.
The West Virginia Senator has urged members to seek their support for the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act, which was not formally reintroduced after the House of Representatives passed this Congress in 2019, restoring a key provision of the Voting Rights Act 1965: “Preclearance” requirements that required the Department of Justice or a DC federal court in certain locations to approve all changes to state and local electoral laws – from redistributing to changing early voting guidelines before they went into effect.
A 2013 Supreme Court ruling, Shelby County v Holder, effectively neutered that preschool request, with the court ruling that the formula for determining which jurisdictions needed a pretrial was out of date. But Manchin – who has pointed out that a bill that passed this formula at 98-0 in 2006 re-approved the Senate – has argued that common ground can be found in the bill named after John Lewis that some members of the CBC have also advanced. Some people have also said they would prefer a nationwide screening process rather than a formula targeting jurisdictions with discriminatory intent that some activists have adopted.
However, it can still be difficult to get bipartisan support. Manchin has teamed up with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to push for re-authorization of the Voting Rights Act “by regular arrangement”, and he stands firm not to change or otherwise modify the filibuster.
Murkowski was the only Republican Senator to back the bill in 2019, while MP Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) Was the only House Republican to vote in favor.