House Democrats will hold their fourth hearing Thursday on H.R. 1, the For the People Act, in the Committee on House Administration. Even though 13 members of his Illinois delegation in the House have co-sponsored this anti-corruption and good government bill, Ranking Member Rodney Davis (R-IL) has already made clear he opposes it and will use Thursday’s hearing to attack it.
Like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Davis opposes the bill for the exact reason it’s necessary: it’ll give regular people a bigger voice in our elections while reducing the power of big donors and lobbyists – the same special interests that have kept him in office.
Davis has taken more than $2.3 million from corporate PACs over his career, the same groups currently opposed to H.R. 1. As Vox reported last month, “Washington’s lobbyist and influence industries seem nervous” about the bill.
In fact, six of every ten dollars Davis has raised over the years has come from PACs.
Davis took over $76,000 from registered lobbyists in the 2018 cycle alone. One lobbyist even helped him shoot a TV ad for his campaign.
His 2018 campaign was propped up by $1.7M in donations from the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC funded by billionaires, large corporations, and dark money. One of the group’s biggest backers was Ken Griffin, a hedge fund billionaire who once said the wealthy have “insufficient influence” in politics.
In addition to siding with his special interest backers to oppose the legislation, Davis has made false or misleading claims about the bill.
If anything, the bill will actually preserve tax dollars. While Republicans’ H.R. 1 in the last Congress was a massive handout to please their wealthy donors, the Democratic House Majority has made its H.R. 1 reduce those donors’ ability to try to buy policy while ensuring regular people are represented in our democracy.
By encouraging and protecting the right to vote and empowering small-dollar donors in our elections, the For the People Act will provide people with more speech by making sure you don’t have to write big checks to be heard in our elections.
Illinois is one of 16 states, along with Washington, D.C., that has automatic voter registration and one of 17, also along with Washington, D.C., that has same-day voter registration. They are tested, successful policies that may even reduce voter roll irregularities.
The federal government has supported a presidential public financing program like the one H.R. 1 would upgrade for years. Just ask Ronald Reagan. The Congressional small-donor matching fund system envisioned in H.R. 1 is modeled on successful, existing programs in cities and states across the country. They’ve opened up the political system to more diverse voices while letting candidates run for office on the strength of their grassroots support. In fact, residents of Davis’ home state of Illinois have shown their support for such programs. In 2015, 78 percent of voters in Chicago supported a resolution calling for a small-donor program to be enacted there.
By wide margins, Americans want Congress to tackle corruption. Post-election polling by End Citizens United found “found that 75 percent of 2018 voters in battleground House districts said cracking down on Washington corruption was their top priority.” H.R. 1 isn’t about party or partisanship, it’s about creating a democracy that works for all of us–something Americans want and deserve.
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