blog: jamie-dupree

House to start debate on sweeping election, voting reform bill

Published: Tuesday, March 05, 2019 @ 11:27 PM

The U.S. House on Wednesday will start debate and votes on a sweeping package of election, voting, and government ethics reforms, pressing the case for major changes to make it easier to vote, make it more difficult to place barriers in the way of voters, and to make reforms in ethics laws dealing with government officials in the nation’s capital.

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“This Democratic majority was elected to clean up this place and clean up our politics,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), as he kicked off a meeting of the House Rules Committee on Tuesday evening the set the ground rules for debate over the next three days.

The panel agreed to allow for votes and debate on 72 different amendments to the over 600 page bill, which has drawn criticism not just from Republicans - but also from some usual allies of Democrats.

"The American Civil Liberties Union, on behalf of its 3 million members, supporters and activists, opposes H.R. 1, the For the People Act of 2019 as it was reported out of the House Administration Committee," the ACLU wrote in a letter trumpeted by Republican opponents of the measure.

While the ACLU noted its support for a number of provisions in the bill, the civil liberties group said in a letter, "there are also provisions that unconstitutionally impinge on the free speech rights of American citizens and public interest organizations."

Republicans were more than happy to run with those ACLU concerns.

As for the details and scope of the floor debate, the House Rules Committee on Tuesday began sorting through the dozens of amendments submitted to the 622 page bill.

The bill is obviously complicated - as it has not only a 14 page table of contents, but also a 446 page report produced by a House panel to explain the changes made by the bill in terms of voting, election and ethics laws.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 169 amendments had been submitted to the Rules Committee, and their variety was a reminder of how much ground this bill covers. Here are just a few examples of what will be debated:

+ Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA) wants to offer an amendment which would block federal funds from being spent at businesses 'owned or controlled by the President, Vice President, or a Cabinet member.'

+ Rep. Charles Crist (D-FL) wants to offer an amendment which requires states to hold at least one day of Early Voting on a Sunday before an election.

+ Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ) wants to offer an amendment requiring paper ballots to be used in all elections for federal office.

+ Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) wants to offer an amendment which strips the power of subpoena authority for the head of the Office of Government Ethics.

The proposed amendments also include a number of plans from GOP lawmakers which would take various steps to make sure that illegal immigrants are not allowed to either register to vote, or actually cast a ballot.

Some of those GOP plans did not make the cut:

+ Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) wanted to offer an amendment to strike a provision in the bill which makes Election Day a national holiday every two years.

+ Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) wanted to offer an amendment eliminating provisions dealing with automatic voter registration.

+ Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) wanted to offer an amendment to end the option on your federal tax return to add $3 to the public financing fund for Presidential campaigns.

For those interested in some of the legislative minutiae, here is a list of the 72 amendments which have been approved for floor debate beginning on Wednesday:

SUMMARY OF AMENDMENTS IN PART B PROPOSED TO BE MADE IN ORDER (summaries derived from information provided by sponsors)

1. Suozzi (NY), Fitzpatrick (PA), Gottheimer (NJ), Brindisi (NY), Carbajal (CA), Spanberger (VA), Murphy (FL), Panetta (CA), Peters (CA), Rose, Max (NY), Soto (FL), Van Drew (NJ), Costa (CA), Crist (FL), Gonzalez, Vicente #112 20/20 PROTOCOL Requires the Federal Elections Commission to conduct an audit after each Federal election cycle to determine the incidence of illicit foreign money in the election. Within 180 Days, the FEC will submit to Congress a report containing audit results and recommendation(s) to address the presence of illicit foreign money. (10 minutes)

(TX), Lipinski (IL), Luria (VA), O'Halleran (AZ), hillips(MN),Schrader (OR), Welch (VT), Dingell (MI), Harder (CA),Schneider (IL), Himes (CT), Reed (NY), Watkins (KS), Upton (MI), Gallagher (WI), Hurd (TX), Smucker (PA), Thompson, Glenn (PA), Stefanik (NY), King, Peter (NY),Katko(NY), Westerman (AR), Amodei (NV),Riggleman (VA), Joyce, David (OH), Moolenaar (MI), Banks (IN), Meuser (PA), Gonzalez, Anthony (OH), Wenstrup (OH) 2. Butterfield (NC), Brown (MD) #95 Ensures states locate polling locations for early voting in rural areas of the state and ensure that those polling places are located in communities that will give rural residents the best opportunity to vote during the early voting period. (10 minutes)

3. Raskin (MD) #61 Prevents corporate expenditures for campaign purposes unless the corporation has established a process for determining the political will of its shareholders. (10 minutes)

4. Hastings (FL), Deutch (FL) #4 Requires states to submit a report to Congress not later than 120 days after the end of a Federal election cycle regarding the number of ballots invalidated by signature mismatch, the attempts to contact voters to provide notice, and the cure process and results. (10 minutes)

5. Cole (OK), Norman (SC) #156 (LATE) Restores a provision currently in law that bars government contractors from disclosing campaign contributions as part of the bidding process. (10 minutes)

6. Scanlon (PA) #162 (LATE) Establishes a fourth committee comprised of election security experts to review grant requests to ensure funds for election infrastructure are best spent. (10 minutes)

7. Scanlon (PA) #163 (LATE) Requests a study by the Federal Election Commission to specifically assess whether the small donor match cap and the sixto-one ratio in H.R.1 is appropriately scaled for both House and Senate elections. (10 minutes)

8. Morelle (NY) #11 Changes pre-election registration deadlines from 30 days to 28 days before election day to ensure the deadline does not fall on a legal public holiday. (10 minutes)

9. Shalala (FL) #31 Requires the Office of Government Ethics to submit a report to Congress regarding the implications of the retroactive application of the ethics waiver process. (10 minutes)

10. Deutch (FL) #41 Strikes the addition of certain disclosure requirements for contributions to political organizations under section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code under the Ethics in Government Act. Leaves the determination of conflicts of interest arising from political fundraising activities to the relevant designated agency ethics official. (10 minutes)

11. Biggs (AZ) #117 Provides that State DMV’s shall require individuals applying for a driver’s license to indicate whether the individual resides in another State or resided in another State prior to applying, and whether the individual intends for the State to serve as the primary residence for voting. If so, the State election officer of the prior State of residence shall be notified. (10 minutes)

12. Lieu (CA) #155 (LATE) Prohibits political appointees from using Federal funds to pay for travel on noncommercial, private, or chartered flights for official business. Exceptions are made if no commercial flight is available during the time at which travel is necessary – any senior political appointee who travels on a non-commercial, private, or chartered flight under the above exception must submit a written statement to Congress certifying that no commercial flight was available. (10 minutes)

13. Jayapal (WA) #113 Directs the Office of Government Ethics to promulgate rules to apply ethics laws to unpaid employees of the Executive Office of the President and the White House. (10 minutes)

14. Jayapal (WA), Omar (MN) #114 (REVISED) Prohibits compensation for lobbying contacts on behalf of foreign countries identified by the Secretary of State as engaging in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights. (10 minutes)

15. Jayapal (WA) #115 (REVISED) Directs the Office of Government Ethics to promulgate regulations establishing limits on gifts and donations to legal defense funds. The regulations shall, at a minimum, set basic requirements on transparency and prohibit mixing federal employees with nonfederal employees to ensure federal employees cannot obtain money from prohibited sources. (10 minutes)

16. Connolly (VA), Langevin (RI) #74 Establishes a Race to the Top model to award supplementary grants to state applicants based on evidence of previous voting system security reforms and plans for implementing additional innovations. (10 minutes)

17. Foxx (NC), Rouda (CA) #154 (LATE) Codifies a Senate rule that brings transparency to sources of compensation for Congressional fellowships, applying it to both chambers. (10 minutes)

18. Lawrence (MI) #157 (LATE) Adds Cabinet members to the list of individuals prohibited from benefiting from an agreement with the U.S. Government. (10 minutes)

19. Gosar (AZ), Meadows (NC) #136 (LATE) Includes criminal penalties for failure to register as a foreign agent, including 5 years in prison for each instance. (10 minutes)

20. Rouda (CA) #91 Requires that all paper ballots used in an election for Federal office must be printed on recycled paper. This requirement applies to all elections occurring on or after January 1, 2021. (10 minutes)

21. Rouda (CA) #93 Directs the Election Assistance Commission to conduct a study of the best ways to design ballots used in elections for public office to minimize confusion, including paper and digital ballots to minimize confusion and user errors. The EAC must submit to Congress this report no later than January 1, 2020. (10 minutes)

22. Rouda (CA) #94 (REVISED) Directs the Postmaster General to modify paper change of address forms used by the United States Postal Service to include a reminder that any individual using the form should update the individual’s voter registration as a result of any change in address. (10 minutes)

23. Hice (GA) #125 Removes the granting of subpoena authority to the Director of the Office of Government Ethics. (10 minutes)

24. Pressley (MA), Meng (NY), Schakowsky (IL) #127 Lowers the mandatory minimum voting age to age 16 in federal elections. (10 minutes)

25. Green, Mark (TN) #133 (LATE) Expresses a sense of Congress that free speech should be protected. (10 minutes)

26. Green, Al (TX) #32 (REVISED) Directs the Election Assistance Commission to carry out a pilot program under which the Commission shall provide funds during the one-year period beginning after the date of enactment, to local educational agencies for initiatives to provide voter registration information to secondary school students in the 12th grade. (10 minutes)

27. Grijalva, Raúl (AZ) #62 Provides that States shall permit an individual who receives a vote by mail ballot to cast the ballot on the date of the election by delivering the ballot to a polling place. (10 minutes)

28. Yoho (FL) #80 Requires the Judicial Conference of the United States to implement a judicial code that is at least as stringent as the requirements placed on Members of Congress. (10 minutes)

29. Moore (WI) #3 (REVISED) Requires voting registration materials to be sent with notification of restoration of rights. (10 minutes)

30. Moore (WI) #53 Calls for a GAO report on the challenges and progress made in making elections accessible for those with disabilities, including an assessment of the impact of changes included in H.R. 1. (10 minutes)

31. Davidson (OH) #43 Ensures that states that have taken appropriate measures to increase voter turnout are not subject to additional federal voter registration mandates. (10 minutes)

32. Davidson (OH) #159 (LATE) Strikes Title IV, subtitle F, which would allow the SEC to require disclosure of political contributions made by public corporations. (10 minutes)

33. Davidson (OH) #160 (LATE) Protects the ability of 501(c)4s to advocate for causes by striking a provision intended to allow for additional IRS regulation of 501(c)4s. (10 minutes)

34. Lujan (NM) #28 (REVISED) Revises Title III, Part 3, Election Infrastructure Innovation Grant Program, to include an emphasis on increasing voter participation, engage the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and increase funding for the competitive grants. (10 minutes)

35. Porter (CA), Gosar (AZ) #76 Expands the ban prohibiting foreign nationals from contributing to elections under Section 319 of FECA to also ban foreign nationals from contributing to state or local ballot initiatives or referenda. (10 minutes)

36. Pocan (WI) #7 Requires the creation of a single lobbying information disclosure portal that combines information currently held and made available to the public by the House, Senate, and DOJ. (10 minutes)

37. Pocan (WI) #8 Ends the practice of prison gerrymandering whereby incarcerated persons are counted in Census population counts as residents of correctional facilities and not their most recent residence prior to imprisonment. (10 minutes)

38. Pocan (WI) #9 Requires states to seek to ensure that any voting machine used for the purposes of a federal election, by 2022, is manufactured in the United States. (10 minutes)

39. Frankel (FL) #22 Clarifies that election administration improvement grants may be used to implement and model best practices for ballot design, ballot instructions, and the testing of ballots. (10 minutes)

40. Ruiz (CA) #37 (REVISED) Prohibits federal funds from being spent at businesses owned or controlled by the President, Vice President, or a Cabinet Member. (10 minutes)

41. Takano (CA), Bilirakis (FL), Raskin (MD), Castor (FL) #72 Establishes that a federal officeholder or candidate for federal office must resolve their campaign contributions within 6 years of leaving office or campaign. (10 minutes)

42. Meng (NY), Pressley (MA), Grijalva, Raúl (AZ), Chu (CA) #131 Requires the Election Assistance Commission poll worker training manual to ensure services are delivered in a culturally competent manner. (10 minutes)

43. Beyer (VA), Butterfield (NC) #71 Provides grants to states to encourage involvement of minors in election activities. (10 minutes)

44. Schneider (IL) #101 Requires FEC to report to Congress within 180 days how to ensure financial disclosure for PACs and Super PACs established before Election Day but whose first disclosure would occur after Election day, as well as their use of debt that is paid off after Election Day for disbursements made before Election Day. (10 minutes)

45. Brown (MD), Crist (FL) #46 Ensures Sunday early voting. (10 minutes)

46. Brown (MD) #49 Requires States to include in their annual report on voter registration statistics, the breakdown of race, ethnicity, age and gender of the individuals whose information is included in the report. (10 minutes)

47. Brown (MD) #50 Adds early voting to the minimum notification requirement for voters affected by polling place changes. Instead of only requiring the State to notify individuals no later than seven days before the date of the election, this would (10 minutes)

include not later than seven days prior to the first day of early voting as well, whichever comes first. 48. Brown (MD) #51 Requires a portion of the early voting hours of operations to occur outside of normal business hours to ensure maximum accessibility to working individuals. (10 minutes)

49. Brown (MD) #52 Requires the States to include in their bi-annual report to Congress on the operation of the voter information hotline, a description of any actions taken in response to reports of voter intimidation or suppression. (10 minutes)

50. Espaillat (NY) #55 Requires the GAO to study the extent to which state redistricting commissions have met the membership diversity requirements in the bill. (10 minutes)

51. O'Halleran (AZ) #139 (LATE) Prohibits senior executive branch officials from violating the Federal Travel Regulations with taxpayer funds, requires federal agencies to disclose quarterly reports to Congress detailing senior officials’ travel on government aircraft, and requires the Office of Government Ethics to issue a report to Congress on recommendations to strengthen the Federal Travel Regulations. (10 minutes)

52. O'Halleran (AZ) #140 (LATE) Requires DOD to regularly disclose reports to Congress detailing the direct and indirect costs to the Department in support of presidential travel, including any costs incurred for travel to properties owned or operated by the President or his immediate family. This amendment codifies a recent GAO recommendation regarding DOD costs of presidential travel. (10 minutes)

53. O'Halleran (AZ) #141 (LATE) Requires DOD to provide Congress regular reports on direct and indirect costs to the Department in support of travel on military aircraft provided to senior executive branch officials, including whether any spousal travel provided was reimbursed to the federal government. (10 minutes)

54. Brindisi (NY) #19 Directs states to equalize polling hours across the state within certain parameters. Provides exceptions for municipalities to set longer hours. (10 minutes)

55. McAdams (UT) #27 Decreases, from 20% to 10%, the threshold by which an individual qualifies as a “lobbyist” under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995. (10 minutes)

56. Case (HI) #45 (REVISED) Incentivizes political party committees to prioritize small dollar donations (up to $200) to provide enhanced support for candidates. (10 minutes)

57. Houlahan (PA) #54 Modifies Section 1611 (Early Voting) to require that States provide for ten hours of early voting per day rather than four hours, as specified in the base text. (10 minutes)

58. Phillips (MN) #73 Clarifies the authority of FEC attorneys, including the General Counsel, to represent the FEC in actions before the Supreme Court. (10 minutes)

59. Phillips (MN) #75 Expands the scope of the revolving door restriction to include a prohibition on "lobbying activity” for former government officials leaving public service during the two-year cooling off period. (10 minutes)

60. Phillips (MN), Torres, Norma (CA) #79 Ensures the FEC Blue Ribbon Advisory Panel consists of individuals with diverse party affiliation and diverse gender and ethnic backgrounds. (10 minutes)

61. Levin, Andy (MI) #98 Prohibits violators of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 and their immediate family members from serving on redistricting commissions. (10 minutes)

62. Trahan (MA) #107 Prohibits agents registered under the Foreign Agents Act from serving on an independent redistricting commission. (10 minutes)

63. Trahan (MA) #108 Extends the guarantee of residency for purposes of voting to family members of absent military personnel. (10 minutes)

64. Kim (NJ) #120 Requires all paper ballots used in an election for Federal office must be printed in the US on paper manufactured in the US. (10 minutes)

65. Harder (CA) #148 (LATE) States that any person or entity that makes a lobbying contact with a covered legislative branch official or a covered executive branch official shall indicate whether the person or entity is registered as a lobbyist. (10 minutes)

66. Horsford (NV) #149 (LATE) Requires all forms made available by the FEC to allow for accent symbols. (10 minutes)

67. Finkenauer (IA), Loebsack (IA), Axne (IA) #182 (LATE) Exempts the State of Iowa's current nonpartisan redistricting system from the Sec. 2401 requirement. (10 minutes)

68. Spanberger (VA), Torres, Norma (CA) #21 Requires the Director of National Intelligence to provide state election officials and Congress an assessment regarding risks and threats to election infrastructure 180 days before a general election. (10 minutes)

69. Sarbanes (MD), Slotkin (MI) #124 (REVISED) Expands the ban on foreign money entering elections to include electioneering communications. (10 minutes)

70. Neguse (CO) #5 Allows 16 and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote ahead of their 18th birthday. (10 minutes)

71. Kirkpatrick (AZ), Gosar (AZ) #161 (LATE) Requires verification value of credit cards for the purchase of online advertising. (10 minutes)

72. Golden (ME) #70 (REVISED) Authorizes the commission to refuse to certify a candidate to participate in the matching public finance program if they have been assessed three or more civil penalties in one or more elections previously and makes a candidate not eligible if there has been a willful violation. References criminal penalties for violations of the law. (10 minutes)

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