News. Debate. Community. Levers for a better democracy.
Big Picture

House Democrats like HR 1 so much they may pass it again, in bite-sized pieces

House Democratic leaders are preparing to pass their signature package of campaign finance, election and ethics law changes for a second time – but this time as a series of rifle shots rather than as one behemoth legislative bomb.

The House majority views the bill, HR 1, as one of the few policymaking efforts that's gained any public relations traction. But with GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell making it clear the legislation is never going to get a moment of airtime in the Senate, the Democrats are looking for another way to draw attention to their signature political messaging effort.

And just maybe, they hope, a critical mass of Republican senators can be persuaded to tell McConnell it makes 2020 campaign sense to embrace a few of the less polarizing provisions that land on their doorstep.

"I am prepared to bring to the floor and pass individual bills to address the reforms included in the For the People Act," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told Politico.

The comprehensive package passed in March along pure party lines. The emerging plan is to hold debate this summer on the sections of the bill designed to bolster election security, expand voting rights, nationalize automatic voter registration and change campaign finance rules by, among other things, compelling more transparency by super PACs and requiring more disclosure of campaign spending online.

News. Community. Debate. Levers for better democracy.

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter.

Big Picture
True
Zach Gibson/Getty Images

During his State of the Union address this year, President Trump said he would stonewall the legislative process if members of Congress don't play ball, writes Neal.

A year of broken standards for America’s democracy

Neal is federal government affairs manager at R Street Institute, a nonpartisan and pro-free-market public policy research organization.

The term "democratic norms" has become a misnomer over the last year. America's governing institutions are undermined by elected officials who dishonor their offices and each other. Standards of behavior and "normal" processes of governance seem to be relics of a simpler time. Our democracy has survived thus far, but the wounds are many.

Free speech and free press have been the White House's two consistent whipping posts. Comments such as "I think it is embarrassing for the country to allow protestors" and constant attacks on press credibility showcase President Trump's disdain for the pillars of democracy. Traditional interactions between the administration and the press are no longer taken for granted. Demeaning, toxic criticisms have become so common that they're being ignored. As the administration revokes critics' press passes and daily briefings are canceled, normalcy in this arena is sorely missed.

Keep reading... Show less
Register2Vote

The founders of Register2Vote, Madeline Eden and Jeremy Smith, preparing registration information for mailing in Texas last year.

After successful Texas debut, tech-based voter registration platform goes national

Having had remarkable success at signing people up to vote in Texas last year, an Austin group of activists is expanding its pilot program into a full-blown national effort to overcome the sometimes ignored first hurdle for people in the voting process — registration.

"There are millions of voters who are registered who don't get out to vote," said Christopher Jasinski, director of partnerships for Register2Vote. "But the unmeasured part of the pie is the actual number of unregistered voters."

Keep reading... Show less