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The For the People Act: Strengthening our Democracy

UPDATE: On June 22, the Senate failed to overcome the filibuster and advance the For the People Act to the floor by a 50-50 vote. We cannot let a procedural mechanism stop the passage of this critical democracy reform that's supported across the country by both Democrats and Republicans. This fight isn't over yet. Democrats can keep bringing this bill to a vote, but they must eliminate the filibuster to get it passed. Call your Senators now and let them know you want them to eliminate the filibuster and pass the For the People Act.

Donald Trump’s presidency and attempts to steal the 2020 election brought into sharp focus the importance of preserving and protecting our democracy against ongoing attempts to erode it. While structural problems with our democracy are longstanding, Trump and his GOP enablers added a sickening layer of corruption, and they continue to work to further suppress the vote, do the bidding of dark money donors, and attack essential democratic norms and the rule of law. Democrats have an opportunity to push back and to change course.

Without a functional democracy in which everyone is included and represented, we can’t achieve any of our other progressive goals. All the issues we care about deeply: health care, immigration, ending wars, racial justice, climate change—fixing these things requires a democracy that is responsive to the people, not the powerful and wealthy.

In the 117th Congress, Democrats’ first order of business was introducing H.R. 1/S. 1, the For the People Act, signaling that democracy reform is their number one priority. With our democracy in crisis, we need a robust reform package that targets voter suppression, gerrymandering, money in politics, corruption, and more. That bill has already passed the House, and is now awaiting a vote in the Senate.

To make matters worse, in reaction to the 2020 election, Republican state legislatures across the country are doubling down on efforts to suppress the vote, specifically to disenfranchise Black people and people of color. In fact, there are 250+ bills pending in states across the country, all designed to restrict the right to vote. In Georgia alone, the state legislature passed a particularly draconian set of voter suppression laws that even make it illegal to give food and water to people waiting in line to vote -- lines that exist due to Georgia Republicans’ ongoing efforts to make voting for certain groups of people, namely Black people and people of color, as painful as possible.

It is crucial that Democrats show their commitment to fighting hard to ensure that everyone has the unimpeded right to participate in our democracy. More than ever we need leadership on the federal level to ensure our democracy represents the people, not the rich and powerful.

Indivisible’s Democracy Reform Agenda

In order to save our democracy, we need a bold day-one democracy agenda: we must pass legislation to democratize the Senate, institute voting rights for all, legitimize the courts, preserve a free and independent media, create fair maps and fair elections, and institute campaign finance reform. Read about our entire democracy reform agenda here.

What is H.R. 1/S. 1, the For the People Act?

The For the People Act, known as H.R. 1 in the House and S. 1 in the Senate, alongside the D.C. Statehood bill and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, are the cornerstones of the necessary reforms we need to unrig our democracy and make it work for all. H.R. 1/S.1, which has already passed the House, includes the following provisions:

  • Voter empowerment and access. Through measures such as automatic voter registration, same-day registration, restoring portions of the Voting Rights Act, protecting against improper purging of voter rolls, requiring states to upgrade and secure their election systems, restoring voting rights to those with past criminal convictions, providing adequate early voting opportunities, and preventing partisan gerrymandering through independent redistricting commissions, the For the People Act ensures that everyone is included and represented in our democracy, and has unimpeded opportunities to participate.
     
  • Money in politics. A constitutional amendment is needed to overturn the chaos that Citizens United and related Supreme Court decisions unleashed into our campaign finance system. The For the People Act starts that process immediately by amplifying small-dollar donations through public financing, encouraging small-dollar donations through tax incentives, eliminating “dark money” by requiring disclosure of all political spending (including online ads), cutting off cooperation between candidates and super PACs, and empowering the Federal Election Commission to truly enforce campaign finance law.
     
  • Ethics and corruption. Trump and his cronies regularly engaged in self-dealing, corruption, and conflicts of interest, without a single rebuke from the Republican-controlled Congress. H.R. 1 cracks down by making sure that ethics rules apply to all government officials - including the President. This means demanding disclosure of and divestment from financial interests that pose conflicts of interest, and then for the rest of the executive branch locking the “revolving door” of lobbyists and government officials, prohibiting bribery, and demanding full disclosure of information revealing potential and actual conflicts of interest.
     
  • Support for the United States Postal Service: Not only would the For the People Act expand mail-in voting across the country, the bill would also provide additional support for USPS. Inspired by Trump’s attempts to suppress the vote, this bill would prevent USPS from delaying mail-in ballots from being processed or counted, specifically by prohibiting the removal of mail collection boxes and mail processing machines, and would prohibit USPS from making major operational changes that would affect the delivery of voting materials or election mail 120 days prior to Election Day.

Call your Senator and demand they support and move swiftly on the For the People Act

Passing the For the People Act is an essential first step to achieving any of our policy goals during the Biden administration. We must begin to unrig our democracy so every American has an equitable voice in our government. Call your Senators and demand they vote YES on the For the People Act and not let the filibuster get in the way of passage.