March 27, 2019

Cortez Masto, Senate Democrats Introduce Sweeping Package of Ethics & Voting Rights Reforms

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) joined U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and every member of the Senate Democratic Caucus in introducing the For the People Act — a sweeping package of comprehensive reforms that would fix our broken politics and make government work for the people. The landmark legislation, companion legislation to H.R. 1 in the U.S. House of Representatives, aims to restore the promise of American democracy by making it easier to vote, ending the dominance of big money in politics, and ensuring that public officials work for the public interest. Earlier this month, the House passed H.R. 1 by a vote of 234-193.

“Our democracy is being threatened by attempts to undermine the right of citizens to vote and the influence of dark money on our elections. Congress must do more to empower Americans to participate in the political process,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “The For the People Act would stop attempts to disenfranchise Americans, strengthen voting rights for people of color and other vulnerable groups, and reduce the influence of dark money in politics. I’m proud to join Senator Udall and the entire Senate Democratic Caucus in introducing legislation to protect our democracy and restore Americans’ faith in our institutions of government.”

"American democracy has reached a crisis point,” said Senator Udall. “Too many Americans have every reason to believe that their government no longer answers to them – and most people are either losing faith in the system or have already lost it completely. Voting rights are under assault, foreign adversaries interfere in our elections, special interest money drowns out the voices of regular people, and so-called public servants use their offices to help themselves and their friends – instead of the people they are supposed to work for. Enough is enough. We must unrig the system and take back our democracy -- to return it to the hands of its rightful owners, the American people. This landmark package of transformational reforms will bring transparency and accountability back to our government by strengthening access to the ballot box, shining sunlight on dark money in politics, and rooting out the culture of corruption in Washington. This shouldn’t be about Democrats versus Republicans. This is about the people versus the special interests. The American people are demanding reform – and they will be heard.”  

The For the People Act would:

Make It Easier To Vote

  • Improve Access and Secure Voting Rights – Expands access to the ballot box by taking aim at institutional barriers to voting, such as cumbersome registration systems, limited voting hours and many other roadblocks. The bill creates automatic voter registration across the country, ensures that individuals who have completed felony sentences have their full rights restored, expands voting by mail, promotes early voting and online voter registration, and modernizes the U.S. voting system.
  • Promote Integrity – Fights back against the assault on voting rights by reaffirming Congress’ commitment to restoring the Voting Rights Act, prohibiting voter roll purges like those seen in Ohio, Georgia and elsewhere, and ensuring that discriminatory voter ID laws do not prevent Americans citizens from exercising their rights. This bill would also end partisan gerrymandering to prevent politicians from picking their voters and making Americans feel like their voices do not count.
  • Bolster Election Security – Ensures that American elections are decided by American voters without interference by foreign adversaries. The bill creates a national strategy to protect our democratic institutions, increases oversight over election vendors, and enhances federal support for state voting system security upgrades, including paper ballot voting systems.

End The Dominance of Big Money In Politics

  • Guarantee Disclosure – Shines a light on dark money in politics by requiring all political organizations to disclose their donors, which will break the nesting-doll system that allows big-money contributors and special interests to hide their spending in networks of so-called “social welfare” organizations; expands “Stand By Your Ad” provisions; and harmonizes internet disclosure rules with existing broadcast rules.
  • Empower Citizens – Builds a 21st century campaign finance system to increase the power of small donors, reaffirms Congress’ authority to regulate money in politics, and pushes back against Citizens United. This bill levels the political playing field for everyday Americans, creating a multiple matching system for small donations and allowing the American people to exercise their due influence in a post-Citizens United world, while reaffirming that Congress should have the authority to regulate money in politics. The new system of citizen-owned elections will break special interests’ stranglehold on Congress and the White House and lay the groundwork for an agenda that serves the American people.
  • Strengthen Oversight – Repairs and restructures the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to break gridlock and enhance enforcement mechanisms, tightens rules on super PACs, and repeals policy riders that block sensible disclosure measures.

Ensure Public Officials Work For The Public Interest

  • Fortify Ethics Laws and Slow the Revolving Door – Breaks the influence of special interests in Washington and increases accountability by expanding conflict of interest law and divestment requirements, slows the revolving door, prohibits members of Congress from serving on for-profit corporate boards, limits first class travel for government officials, ends taxpayer-financed settlements for officeholders, and requires presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns.
  • Impose Greater Ethics Enforcement – Gives teeth to federal ethics oversight by overhauling the Office of Government Ethics, requires the Supreme Court to create a new ethical code, and closes registration loopholes for lobbyists and foreign agents.