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The State of Reform
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Big Picture

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.

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"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."

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