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Democracy reform coalition presses the presidential field for more attention

A coalition of more than 100 progressive advocacy groups on Wednesday urged all two-dozen announced major party presidential candidates to endorse a comprehensive democracy reform plan and declare that implementation would be a top priority for their administrations.

The group, called Declaration for American Democracy, said the best place for them to start would be embracing HR 1, the comprehensive campaign finance, election administration and government ethics package the House passed this spring with the votes of all the Democrats (but none of the Republicans). Every Democratic senator is co-sponsoring the companion measure even though it's a dead letter in the GOP-majority Senate.

That means half the Democratic field (the seven senators and four House members running) is already behind the package, and several of the others have also signaled their support – although none of them has yet sounded ready to make fixing government dysfunction a centerpiece of their platform. (The only declared HR 1 opponent among the candidates is President Trump, who's said he would veto the measure.)

"We encourage you to treat the policies included in these bills, and listed in the document below, as the foundation for your own democracy platform and that you explore additional new aspirational reform measures to revitalize our democracy," the group wrote in a letter to each candidate, attaching a manifesto which largely echoes the provisions in the House measure.

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"We want to know how you'll champion these reforms on the campaign trail," they said, and "if elected, this platform's enactment must be your first priority in 2021."

The coalition includes prominent left-leaning government reform and campaign finance groups including End Citizens United, Public Citizen, People for the American Way and Common Cause; environmental organizations including Greenpeace and the League of Conservation Voters; civil rights groups including the NAACP and progressive membership organizations including MoveOn and the Working Families Party.

Most of the Democrats did commit this week, meanwhile, to one thing that might boost faith in democracy: Eight of them told Washington Post columnist Karen Tumulty they would reinstate the daily press briefings – she dubbed them "a ritualized means of holding power accountable" – that were a fixture at the White House for decades but have not been held in more than two months. Seven others committed to an on-the-record press secretary interaction with the press corps at least weekly.

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