Everything You Need To Know About HR1, Democrats’ Anti-Corruption Bill

What’s in HR1, what are it’s chances for success, and can it withstand the Supreme Court’s scrutiny?

Last week House Democrats passed HR1, the For the People Act, on a strict party line vote. Here’s what you need to know about the bill’s content, chances of success, and constitutionality.

What does HR1 do?

HR1 contains a variety of provisions in the areas of voting rights, campaign finance, and some provisions that seem squarely aimed at President Trump. On voting rights, the most notable provisions include declaring Election Day a federal holiday, automatic voter registration, two weeks of early voting in every state, and restoring voting rights for people who have served felony sentences.

Campaign finance reform provisions focus on matching funds and disclosure. The bill provides for a matching funds program for federal elections whereby contributions up to $200 would be matched 6 to 1. So for example, a Congressional candidate who received a $100 contribution would receive an additional $600 under the program. Funding would purportedly come from fines on corporations that break campaign finance laws. In addition, the bill would require Super PACs and nonprofits to disclose the identity of donors who contribute $10,000 or more, a provision designed to provide greater transparency and less “dark money.”

Taken together, those provisions would make it easier for Americans to be politically active and increase the impact of individuals who to contribute to Congressional or Presidential campaigns. Statements that HR1 would “save democracy” or “end big money in politics” are hyperbolic. But increasing access to the ballot and attempting to diminish the influence of powerful interests is a great start.

Finally, there are some parts of HR1 that are clearly a reaction to Trump. One provision would require Presidential candidates to release their last 10 years of tax returns. Another would prohibit federal funds from being spent at businesses owned or controlled by the President. The latter sounds great as applied to Trump, but may be more questionable if a President with different business interests ever takes office. There is also a requirement that the Department of Defense regularly report the President’s travel expenses.

Will HR1 succeed?

HR1 has already passed the House. It will almost certainly not pass the Senate. However, Democrats will campaign on the issue leading up to the 2020 elections, and the bill, or something like it, may have a realistic chances of success in the next Congress.

Is HR1 constitutional?

Some parts of HR1 would undoubtedly withstand the Supreme Court’s scrutiny, but others are questionable. For example, given that states control their voting laws, it’s unclear whether Congress can mandate that former felons’ voting rights be restored. Similarly, many believe that it is unconstitutional to compel a candidate to release their tax returns. And although the Supreme Court has previously upheld some public financing systems (while striking down others), it is unclear how this Court would rule with Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh on the bench.

What can I do to help?

If you support HR1, short of engineering an 80s movie style body switch between Mitch McConnell and Bernie Sanders, there probably isn’t anything you can do to help HR1 succeed this session. But, if you want the bill to succeed in the future you can work to ensure that your next Congressional representatives support the bill if they don’t already. Finding out where 2020 candidates stand and supporting those who pledge to vote for HR1 is one option. Attending town halls and publicly asking candidates who don’t yet support the bill why they don’t, is another.

Anything else? Yes, don’t forget about an amendment.

As alluded to above, some writers have praised HR1 as if it’s a panacea. It isn’t. If it passes, it’s a big step in the right direction, but keep in mind that due to decades of poorly reasoned Supreme Court decisions, Congress is very limited it what it can actually do to diminish the influence of big money in politics. The reason HR1 doesn’t limit spending by ultra-wealthy individuals like the Koch brothers or Michael Bloomberg, or prevent corporations and unions from spending unlimited amounts of money to influence elections, is because it can’t. The Supreme Court has already ruled such limits unconstitutional, using deeply flawed reasoning that such spending does not pose a significant risk of corruption, and that corporations should be treated the same as individuals when it comes to political speech.

If we ever want to truly regain control of our campaign finance system, we must pass a constitutional amendment to undo the damage done by decisions like Buckley v. Valeo and Citizens United, and shift power back to Congress, state legislatures, and voters. So while HR1 is a strong effort under the circumstances and worthy of support, it’s critical to keep in mind that more systemic change requires a more systemic solution. Passing a constitutional amendment is our best and perhaps only chance to remake our campaign finance system.

34 thoughts on “Everything You Need To Know About HR1, Democrats’ Anti-Corruption Bill”

  1. Anti corruption? Is this a joke? Its the most corrupt bill in history, its unconstitutional and mandates that states cant make obvious rules to prevent voter fraud, which there is plenty of in this country. Its nothing more than democrats attempt to illegally take over the country. All their arguments against voter id are baseless, the vast majority of black, hispanic, asian, white etc voters are FOR VOTER ID. Its incredibly racist to suggest that minorities cant get ID. In reality only 3% of black voters dont have id, and the vast majority of them want voter id. Hr1 is mandating that we CANT have voter id! Its totally against the will of the people, and this article is a joke to call that “anti corruption”. Its the opposite, its the definition of corruption

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  2. The Constitution is designed to protect citizens of the United States—HR1 is unconstitutional—It is designed to keep the Democrats in power forever and it is highly doubtful that it would pass The Supreme Court, it certainly shouldn’t—It will probably fail but it will be set up in different wording and attempted again by The Democrats—It is shameful that they, or any other political party, that would attempt such deceitful actions, should be arrested and placed in prison for life.

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  3. If you call stomping on human rights, justice and liberty “a step in the right direction”, this is one of the most illiberal pieces of legislation ever. Meaning precisely the way Jefferson and the other framers of the Constitution used the word liberal and illiberal, not the modern hijacking of the word where liberal is used as a synonym for collectivism, Marxism and tyranny (not to those who believe Marxism is a good thing obviously).

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  4. Amazed at the ignorance on display by many. I can only assume they are bought and paid for by large corporations. Most want to suppress voting cause they do not believe in demonocracy nor equal rights under the law. And why would anyone want our democracy controlled by the 1% through big money political donations, which is what HR1 prevents unless they are making out like bandits? Follow the money, follow the money, follow the money.

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    • How odd. First, we are not a democracy. We are a constitutional republic. There is a difference. Democracy is mob rule. In a constitutional republic, a greater weight is given toindividual rights and freedoms. Next, the Democrats made out like bandits through large corporation donations, huge dark money PACs funded by the 1%, and foreign money channeled through a complex series of PACS and action organizations. I find it absurd to hear any Dem speak out against “big corps” when those big corps, big tech, and big media colluded to elect Uncle Joe. Finally, we all want free and fair elections. Why does the DNC balk at doing exactly what they did in Iraq to guarantee a free and fair election? If you want to vote, register, prove exactly who you are and where you live, be photographed, then fingerprinted. At the time of casting your ballot by either mail or in person, supply your fingerprint that matches the fingerprint on file and have your vote counted. Do you not remember the iconic photo of the young Iraqi woman with the purple ink on her thumb? Why do the Dems refuse to do these reforms in the US despite demanding these steps in Iraq for a free and fair election?

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    • “voter suppression” is nothing more than a myth spread by lying democrats. No one is suppressed, getting an ID is not difficult and almost everyone has one already. You really gotta have a few screws loose if you are racist enough to think black people cant get an ID. Bigotry of low expectations, aka actual racism spread by liberals

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  5. Sad to see – even after Jan 6th Insurrection that many people out there are still under the CULT influence of the 45th. Education and science, helping citizens vote, bringing healthcare and support for the poor and food for children and honesty and transparency are the only things that matter and those are called progress. We need it now more than ever. Global warming must be addressed, voter suppression must be addressed and help for under privileged, wages increased so the economy can rise up. The left addresses the issues. The right sits on their hands and blames the left for nothing being done. Thank goodness 2/3 of the nation voted in BIDEN/HARRIS so we can continue truth and democracy.

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  6. Seems like the changes being made are not the right ones. We need election reform. Voter ID in every state, only paper ballots, no mass mail in voting, no to illegals voting, no to felons voting.

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  7. The entire sham of HR1 is blatantly unconstitutional! So many parts of it are just a glaring assault on the constitution and citizens of this great Country. The states control the elections and it should stay that way, not Congress! Our founding fathers were VERY specific and VERY clear in their language! The only changes that our voting system really needs would be for voters to show a picture ID identifying them when they go to vote and each ballot should have a unique identifying serial number printed on it. In addition, a campaign should not be funded with taxpayer dollars as this bill suggests.

    I see this bill as an outrageous assault on the constitution and the common sense and dignity of every person in the U.S. Does anyone realize how racist parts of this bill are? The bill states how certain ethnic groups (namely blacks) can’t figure out where to go to vote or turn in their ballots. That is simply not true. How dare they dumb down the citizens of the United States of America.

    Do we really want one party to have totalitarian control over our lives because that is what this bill does? Do you see how out of control and unbalanced these people are? Only a FOOL would hand over control of their life and voting rights to a radical bunch of lunatics that we have right now in our Congress! God help us! This HR1 bill needs to be burned on the Congress steps! Please do not vote in favor of HR1 it has nothing to do with “For the People”

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  8. Yes, I totally agree in not passing this Evil HR 1!
    I love this country and want it to keep to the Constitution!
    Our founders were designated by the people, but most of all the with Christian values.
    God is the one truly in charge!

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  9. I DO NOT SUPPORT THE H.R.1 BILL AND WE THE PEOPLE DO NOT NEED TO SIT BACK AND LET THIS HAPPEN.THE DEMOCRATS ARE SO FRIGGIN SNEAKY AND WE HAVE GOT TO WATCH THEIR EVERY MOVE.WE WOULD NOT EVEN VOTE IF THIS GOES IN…WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA WILL NOT LET THIS GO BY US…EVERYONE OF THE FAR LEFT NEEDS TO BE THROWN OUT ON THEIR ASSES. THEY ARE MORE EVIL THAN SATIN HIMSELF…THEY ARE THE DEVILS. NO MORE PELOSI

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  10. HR 1 is wrong on every level! American voting rights would be stripped away by it.
    It should be illegal for anyone to quietly try to take away legal voting rights of Americans.
    Americans need to FIGHT HR 1! Peacefully and Patriotically!

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    • imagine these words coming from the party who have passed countless voter suppression acts because they lost. get a grip

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  11. This entire sham is blatantly unconstitutional! So many parts of it or just an egregious assault on the constitution. The states control the elections, not Congress! Our founding fathers were VRY specific and very clear in their language!
    I don’t know he is a travesty and assault on the constitution, it is an assault on the common sense of each and every person out here!
    Do you really want one party I have totalitarian control over your life for the rest of your life? Do you already see how out of control and maniacally nuts these people are? Only a FOOL would handover control of their life to a radical bunch of lunatics like we have right now! God help us! This thing needs to be burned on the goddamn Congress steps!

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  12. The only changes for voting should be that an ID must be shown when you GO TO VOTE AND THE ONLY PERSONS THAT CAN MAIL IN VOTE IS IF YOU REQUEST A BALLOT AND THERE MUST BE SIGNATURES VERIFIED.

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  13. Support for HR1 IS AN ATTEMPT TO WECK AND DEBASE OUR ENTIRE ELECTION SYSTEM under the guise of empowering an undefined group of supposedly oppressed individuals, who simply will not come out to vote probably because they don’t care to, or do not understand the issues and don’t care to. So ””harvesting” their votes is really just inventing votes which otherwise wouldn’t have existed. Stealing their rights to abstain is not honest, but clearly a crooked scam to curry power.

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  14. This was nothing more then an attempt by the Democrats to get more votes so that they can stay in power.

    It protects nothing but the Democrats and the far left.

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