H.R. 1 is not ‘for the people’

Published 8:40 am Monday, March 11, 2019

Our country is a representative democracy, founded on the principle that all are created equal and every vote counts the same. Americans have the power to choose who represents them in our government, and it should stay that way. Democrats’ top legislative agenda item, H.R. 1, the so-called “For the People Act,” should really be renamed the “For the Politicians Act” since it is not actually for the people at all. I believe Congress can find a bipartisan campaign reform that benefits the people; however, this legislation does not do that. This bill takes the power away from states to decide election rules; allows taxpayer dollars to fund campaigns; attacks Americans’ right to free speech; and weakens our election system. H.R. 1 negatively affects the people it claims to help — the voters — and is one of the worst pieces of legislation we have voted on since I was first elected to the House.
One of the most egregious aspects of this bill that will increase corruption is allowing the use of taxpayer dollars to fund campaigns. The bill creates a six-to-one government match for all small donor contributions of $200 or less — conveniently the threshold at which no transparency applies. For example, if someone donates $200, the government will have to match it by contributing $1,200 making the total amount given to the candidate $1,400. Why should hardworking Americans be forced to subsidize politicians with whom they don’t agree? Think about this example: let’s say an individual was prepared to give a candidate $2,700, the maximum allowed under current law. Instead of simply giving the $2,700, that person could ask seven family members to donate $200 apiece and instead of receiving $2,700, the candidate would receive over $10,000 — and over $7,500 of that total would be funded by taxpayers. Just this proposal alone will cost billions each year, adding on to our nation’s debt.
This legislation effectively federalizes our election processes. It takes away states ability to choose their voting machines, their voter verification system, and it could take away their ability to draw congressional boundaries by giving oversight authority to the DC District Court. Our states and communities do not need Washington bureaucrats regulating our elections. East Tennesseans, like many other communities, are perfectly capable of handling elections, and they understand how to run elections in ways that works best for their voters.
We all support American citizens’ right to get out and vote, but there needs to be a way to verify voters eligibility. H.R. 1 will only weaken the integrity of our election system by eliminating requirements for government-issued voter identification in favor of nothing more than a signature; allowing same-day voter registration that would be ripe for fraud; and legalizing voting for convicted felons all over the country, including those who were convicted of election fraud.
The provision I find most troubling is its attempt to limit free speech. The bill limits the speech of individuals and small groups that speak about federal candidates and issues by requiring them to file disclosures and FEC reports for “campaign related-disbursements,” even if the speech had no impact on the election and wasn’t said in an election year. Americans should be able to support the causes and issues they believe in, free from harassment from those who disagree with them. There is no legitimate public interest in obtaining this information and will only subject these individuals and small groups to harassment if their beliefs are not necessarily in line with who they work for, or what organizations of which they may be a part. Remember — we are only a few years removed from the Internal Revenue Service under President Obama targeting conservative groups, and there’s no reason to think this bill won’t lead to even more of the same.
The Democrats’ top legislative priority will serve to federalize our elections; will use hardworking Americans’ money to fund our elections; and will limit free our speech. The nothing in this bill that’s “for the people,” and I will work to ensure this legislation does not become law.

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