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House Passes Corruption Reform Bill

On Friday, the House of Representatives passed H.R 1, a sweeping government ethics and anti-corruption bill.

With a final vote of 204-193 along party lines, this bill, also known as the “For the People Act” is one of the first major legislative actions from House Democrats since taking over the chamber earlier this year. Among the many provisions included in this bill, some measures aim to expand voting rights for citizens, crack down on lobbying, and increase transparency in donations for political campaigns.

Rep John Sarbanes was the main sponsor of H.R 1. Photo:  CSPAN

Rep John Sarbanes was the main sponsor of H.R 1. Photo: CSPAN

The 2016 presidential election brought new attention to issues involving voting rights. In H.R 1, the voter registration process would be made easier, allowing qualified citizens to register online or automatically through their driver’s license. In order to prevent computer tampering, voters will now be required to vote on paper ballots in federal elections.

H.R 1 also attempts to create more transparency in campaign finances. Under this bill, small dollar donations would be capped at $200 and would require the passage of the DISCLOSE Act, a measure requiring Super PACs to make their donors public.

Speaking on the measure, Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO) said, “It is no coincidence that the largest freshman class since Watergate is also the class that is leading and pushing on this critical reform measure. We are the class born of voters' frustrations with a broken system.” Crow was also one of 48 freshman representatives that had signed onto a letter directing Congress to bring their attention to issues revolving campaign finance.

Rep. Jason Crow (right) was supportive of the bill for its provisions of campaign finance. Photo: Esteban L. Hernandez/ Denverite

Rep. Jason Crow (right) was supportive of the bill for its provisions of campaign finance. Photo: Esteban L. Hernandez/Denverite

Shortly before the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) spoke to reporters in news conference, saying, “H.R. 1 restores the people’s faith that government works for the public interest, the people’s interests, not the special interests.”

Republicans were brazen in their opposition for the proposal. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell attacked his Democratic colleagues, calling the measure a “power grab.” In an Washington Post Op-Ed, McConnell said, “They’re trying to clothe this power grab with cliches about ‘restoring democracy’ and doing it ‘For the People,’ but their proposal is simply a naked attempt to change the rules of American politics to benefit one party. It should be called the Democrat Politician Protection Act.” McConnell has indicated that the bill is dead on arrival.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has called the bill a “power grab” by Democrats. Photo: Timothy D. Easley/ AP Photo

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has called the bill a “power grab” by Democrats. Photo: Timothy D. Easley/AP Photo

Democrats are expected to introduce additional bills on various issues in the coming weeks. Last week, the Democrats passed H.R 8, a bill intended to expand background checks on gun purchases.