HR 1 is a Democratic power grab

  • 12 March 2019
  • NormanL

On a 234-193 party line vote, House Democrats passed their top legislative priority since taking control in January -- the so-called "For the People Act." The stated intent of the measure is to “expand Americans’ access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, and strengthen ethics rules for public servants.”

What the bill really is, according to National Review, is an unconstitutional power grab:

At every turn, it grants federal regulators more power. Time and again, it renders federal election law more complex — creating a chilling effect on political communication through sheer uncertainty and confusion.

The free-speech problems are so obvious that free-speech organizations on the left and right are united in opposition. Comprehensive analyses from the Institute for Free Speech and the American Civil Liberties Union are worth reading in their entirety and raise remarkably similar concerns.

At a time of extraordinary public harassment, boycotts, intimidating public shame campaigns, the act would expand financial-disclosure requirements, including in some circumstances requiring public disclosure of the names and addresses even of donors who did not know about or perhaps even support the political message of the organization they funded. Donors may give money, for example, to fund one aspect of an organization’s mission only to be involuntarily exposed as a “political donor” when the organization chooses — without the donor’s knowledge or consent — to mention a politician by name in a different context. As the ACLU points out, “it is unfair to hold donors responsible for every communication in which an organization engages.”

Moreover, in the effort to further limit “coordination” between candidates and political action committees, the bill sets forth language so broad that, as the ACLU explains, it affects communications that “merely refer to a candidate or an opponent to a candidate 120 days before an election or 60 days before a primary or a caucus.” The Institute for Free Speech’s Bradley Smith argues that, with such language, “the goal seems to be to limit discussion of candidates to the candidates and parties themselves, at the expense of the public at large.”

There's much more at the link

What are the bill's Senate prospects? If Majority Leader Mitch McConnell holds the line he established in his Washinton Post op-ed, then HR 1 is dead on arrival:

From the First Amendment to your ballot box, Democrats want to rewrite the rules to favor themselves and their friends. Upending the FEC, squeezing taxpayers, attacking privacy and jeopardizing our elections are a price they’ll happily pay for this partisan power grab.

Fortunately, the November elections that handed Pelosi the House also expanded Republicans’ Senate majority. I hope the two bodies can find common ground and build on the bipartisan successes of last Congress — but this outlandish Democrat proposal is not a promising start. My colleagues and I will proudly defend your privacy and your elections.

It's a good start...and a reminder of how important is it to have a legislative check on the ambitions of congressional Democrats.