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"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a fellow Republican, will not allow passage of any legislation that promotes transparency, election security, better government or the constitutional Article 1 obligation for congressional oversight of the executive branch," writes former Rep. Claudine Schneider, a Republican.

This is not the Republican Party that made America great

Schneider represented Rhode Island in the House of Representatives from 1981 to 1991 as a Republican.

In the 2016 election, Republicans took control of the White House, the United States Senate and the House of Representatives – effectively controlling all the levers of legislative power.

Do you remember the very first bill that the new Republican House introduced?

It was a bill to gut the House Ethics Committee – the "watchdog" committee responsible for investigating wrongdoing by members of Congress, such as harassment, campaign finance abuse and other violations of the public trust.

As a Republican former member of Congress, this was an alarming "ah ha" moment for me. I knew nothing good could come of that gambit and that it would portend similar Republican power grabs to come.

The new Republican congressional majority also made me realize I would have to pay even closer attention to the maneuverings of my own party!


Happily, in this instance there was such a public outcry about the neutering of the Ethics Committee that Republican leaders quickly reversed course and abandoned this blatant attempt to undermine congressional accountability. However, as we saw during 2017 and 2018, Republican House leaders still did everything they could to stymie good governance.

Fast forward two years later: The voters speak.

Democrats gain the House majority following a "wave" election. Voters around the country were fed up with the lack of ethics in Washington.

Do you remember the very first bill that the new Democratic House introduced after the 2018 election?

It was a bill to restore transparency, oversight, and ethics to congressional operations, by enhancing voting rights, enacting campaign finance reform and cracking down on lobbying abuses.

This bill, with the symbolically important designation of "HR 1," passed on a party-line vote and went to the Senate for consideration.

And then it went to the Senate. End of story.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a fellow Republican, will not allow passage of any legislation that promotes transparency, election security, better government or the constitutional Article 1 obligation for congressional oversight of the executive branch.

McConnell's proudest accomplishments have been to thwart President Obama's legislative goals and judicial appointments.

Remember Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland? McConnell made sure the Supreme Court was shorthanded for nearly a year by blocking Garland from a fair nomination hearing during the last year of Obama's presidency. Now in a miraculous change of heart, McConnell has promised a speedy hearing should any future vacancies occur during the Trump presidency, even during an election year (his original rationale for blocking Garland's nomination).

McConnell is a classic Republican "enabler" who will go down in history as Gravedigger of the Rule of Law.

Simply put, Mitch McConnell represents the modern Republican Party – a party that increasingly can win elections only by gerrymandering, restricting voting rights and gaming the campaign financing system.

I served in Congress as a Republican. I am still a Republican, but this is not the Republican Party that made America great.

To restore the Republican Party, we need to restore its founding principles of limited government, equal rights and freedom for all.

So how should we go about restoring these founding principles of the party?

It's really not difficult in practice: We begin by passing HR 1 in the Senate and sending it to the White House. Passing HR 1 into law would start the process of repairing America's constitutional paralysis, reinvigorate our system of checks and balances, and restore voter confidence in "the system" - which, under Republican sway, is being dismantled.

Once we start restoring the constitutional rule of law and repairing the damage caused by Republican misrule, our democratic institutions will regain legitimacy and will begin to function properly once again.

America has long stood as a beacon of fairness and justice but not under this "Republican" Party. My Republican colleagues and I always asked, "Is this bill in the best interest of the general public?" Clearly the current Republicans don't care. If they did, the Senate would vote on HR 1, rather than bury it.

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Tech. Sgt. Jeff Kelly/U.S. Air Force

The Federal Voting Assistance Program assists military members who need to vote via absentee ballot. A spokeswoman for the Defense Department said there would be "minimal disruptions" if the United States pulls out of the international postage agency.

Costs to mail ballots may skyrocket for civilians, military living overseas

Election officials are growing increasingly concerned that the Trump administration's trade war with China could make it more difficult and expensive for overseas voters — including those in the military — to cast ballots in the 2019 and 2020 local, state and federal elections.

The issue is the pending withdrawal in October by the U.S. from the Universal Postal Union, a group of 192 nations that has governed international postal service and rates for 145 years.

Last October, the U.S. gave the required one-year notice stating it would leave the UPU unless changes were made to the discounted fees that China pays for shipping small packages to the United States. The subsidized fees — established years ago to help poor, developing countries — place American businesses at a disadvantage and don't cover costs incurred by the U.S. Postal Service.

With the U.S.-imposed deadline for withdrawal or new rates fast approaching, states officials are running out of time to prepare for overseas mail-in voting.

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Wambui Gatheru

"Every single opportunity I have been afforded in this country can be traced back to the ratification of amendments."

Meet the reformer: 10 questions with Wambui Gatheru

'Every single opportunity I have been afforded in this country can be traced back to the ratification of amendments.'

Wambui Gatheru is the outreach manager at American Promise, which advocates for amending the Constitution to regulate the raising and spending of electoral campaign funds. Originally from Connecticut, Gatheru, 24, joined the American Promise staff in 2017 after graduating from the University of Connecticut.

The following Q&A has been edited for clarity and length.

What's the tweet-length description of your organization?

American Promise is a cross-partisan organization committed to getting money out of politics, forever, with a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Describe your very first civic engagement.

Knocking door-to-door in my small town in Connecticut when Barack Obama was first running for president.

What was your biggest professional triumph?

Being a part of the effort that made New Hampshire the 20th state in favor of the 28th Amendment. This was something I'd been working on since I started at American Promise two years ago, and the legislation was just passed in March of this year. It was a surreal victory because it had been such a long fight. It took a lot of coordination on every level of civic engagement, but it's a victory I'm happy to have been a part of here at American Promise.

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