House passes sweeping voting rights bill over GOP objections

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In a show of commitment to strengthening democracy and fair elections, House Democrats overwhelmingly passed H.R. 1.

On Friday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats fulfilled a major promise by passing their marquee bill focused on ensuring free and fair elections. By a vote of 234-193, the House passed H.R. 1, the For the People Act.

Every vote against the bill came from Republicans, while Democrats unified behind the bill.

The bill shows that new Democratic House majority means business when it comes to returning power to voters across the country. In a November 2018 op-ed, Pelosi and bill sponsor Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) described this bill as the the new majority's first order of business.

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If signed into law, they write, the bill would "promote national automatic voter registration, bolster our critical election infrastructure against foreign attackers, and put an end to partisan gerrymandering once and for all by establishing federal guidelines to outlaw the practice."

The bill also requires disclosures of dark money donors, helping shed a light on who is trying to influence lawmakers and the general public.

After Russian interference helped Trump win the 2016 election and Republicans pushed voting restrictions nationwide, Democrats in Congress — emboldened by a mandate from voters who swept them to victory in the 2018 midterms — have been determined to use their new House majority to fight for the foundational principles of democracy, including the need for free and fair elections.

In Republican-led states like Georgia and North Carolina, for instance, citizens faced GOP-led voter suppression and election fraud efforts to undermine the ability of every American to make their voice heard.

But with the new Congress, things are changing.

"This is when we take our democracy back," Rep. Katie Hill (D-CA), one of the freshman Democrats who helped secure the majority by flipping a red seat blue, said on the steps of the U.S. Capitol before the vote.

"This is the moment. This is the moment we came here for," Hill added.

The bill now moves to the Republican-led Senate, where it faces stiff opposition from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell has already vowed to block the Senate from even voting on H.R. 1 — unwilling to allow his colleagues to show their support for (or opposition to) basic voting rights and fair elections.

But by passing H.R. 1, the Democratic majority has made it clear to Americans where they stand.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.