Democrats Unveil Government Overhaul Legislation
Top House Democrats unveiled their sweeping "good government" legislation Friday, fulfilling their promise to give the issue pride of place now that they have the majority's power to set the agenda for half of Congress. But their bill, which will get the label HR 1, looks to be several modifications and many weeks away from passage by the House and still looks to be dead-on-arrival in a Senate still under Republican control.
The aim of the package – which among other things would introduce some public financing of congressional campaigns, shrink the role of partisan politics in drawing House districts, expand voter registration and access to the polls, tighten government ethics rules and require presidential nominees to turn over their tax returns – is "to clean up corruption and restore integrity to government," Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared.
Democrats have plainly concluded that, even if none of the pieces of their sprawling measure become law, the challenges of the political system are increasingly on voters' minds and "fixing the system" will be a winning issue for the party in the two years before the next elections for the White House and Congress.
"But action and anger go far beyond Congress," a thorough and clear assessment by the New York Times summarized this week. "With voters increasingly aware of the powerful impact of gerrymandering and doubtful about the fairness of elections, voting issues have become central to politics in key states including Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin."
An increasing number of the country's largest publicly traded companies are disclosing more than ever about political spending habits that the law permits them to keep secret.
That's the central finding of the fifth annual report from a group of academics and corporate ethicists, who say the average score among the biggest companies traded on American exchanges, the S&P 500, has gone up each year since 2014.
Though corporate political action committees must disclose their giving to candidates, those numbers are very often dwarfed by the donations businesses make to the trade associations and other outside groups that have driven so much of the steady rise in spending on elections. Conservatives say robust disclosure of these behaviors is the best form of regulating money in politics and is working fine, and this new report reflects that. Those who say campaign finance needs more assertive federal regulation will argue such corporate transparency is inconsistent and inadequate to the task, and the new report underscores that.
A year from the presidential election, U.S. intelligence agencies have adopted a new framework for how they will inform candidates, groups and the public about attempts to disrupt our country's elections by foreign operatives.
But the one-page summary of the plan, released late last week, is so general that it remains unclear what the intelligence community plans to do if and when it discovers something suspicious.
The summary by the director of national intelligence states that the federal government will "follow a process and principles designed to ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that notification decisions are consistent, well-informed and unbiased."
The new framework is designed to prevent a repeat of some of what happened after the 2016 election.