For the People Act of 2019

Floor Speech

Date: March 7, 2019
Location: Washington, DC


Ms. LOFGREN. Madam Chair, pursuant to section 3 of House Resolution 172, I offer amendments en bloc.


Ms. LOFGREN. Madam Chair, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

This package of 17 important amendments was made in order by the rule. The substance of these amendments ranges from commonsense information-gathering to protecting our Nation from foreign influence.

For instance, one amendment expands an existing ban to protect against a greater universe of threats. It provides that the Federal Election Campaign Act, which already bans foreign nationals from contributing to American elections, ought also to ban them from contributing to State or local ballot initiatives or referenda, where their undue influence might allow outside control of State and local matters.

Our colleagues have also joined with us in efforts to understand and appreciate the different experiences of American voters and to ensure that voters of all kinds are included at the ballot box by supporting information-sharing between States and the Election Assistance Commission.

One amendment focuses on greater reporting of demographic information, shining a light on who is voting so that we can better grasp who is participating or perhaps feels left out of our diverse electorate.

In States where information about age, gender, race, and ethnicity is already available to the State, this amendment will simply require States to include that demographic information about voters in their annual report to the Election Assistance Commission on voter registration statistics.

Our colleagues also support efforts by the Government Accountability Office to study the extent to which membership diversity requirements have been met in State redistricting commissions, ensuring that justice and fairness in representing the people is the priority, not partisan advantage to either party.

In a similar vein of being welcome to diverse voters, an amendment requires that the poll worker training manual provided by the Election Assistance Commission ensures that services are delivered in a culturally competent manner to voters who need these services, including voters with disabilities, those with limited English proficiency, and voters of diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds, all regardless of the gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity of the prospective voter.

This amendment seeks to give each voter full and equal access to the poll worker services that are critical to inclusive and efficient election administration and engagement with our sacred duties in this election.

This amendment also contains several component parts that focus on transparency and accessibility of information to everyday citizens so they can feel confident about the integrity, prudence, and independence of this government.

One amendment would stop campaign contributions providing an endless piggybank to candidates long after they have left office, or their campaign.

Another amendment gives citizens an important and accessible window into lobbying information. It would require the Attorney General to establish within the Department of Justice a single lobbying information disclosure portal through which members of the public could obtain hard copies and electronic copies of registration statements filed under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 and the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938. The effect of this amendment would be to combine and make easily accessible information that is currently available from disparate sources, including the House, the Senate, and the Department of Justice. Efforts like these increase information flow, transparency, and confidence in our government.

Madam Chair, I think these amendments are worthy of our support.

Mr. RODNEY DAVIS of Illinois. Madam Chair, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I thank my friend and chairperson of our committee, Ms. Lofgren. It is great to be able to work together and show some bipartisanship.

As many who may have been paying attention yesterday to our long debate on this bill know, that has been one of my chief complaints about H.R. 1. We haven't seen the bipartisanship that the new majority, the new Democratic majority, promised.

Every one of these amendments were offered by members of the Democratic conference. While our amendments in the only markup process that we had for this 622-page bill were all shot down on a partisan roll call, I want the Record to show that Republicans believe in bipartisanship and this en bloc group of amendments clearly shows that.

While individually I may not have supported every one of them, this is what bipartisanship and good principle compromise leads to. It leads to us spending a lot less time on the floor debating individual amendments, but also saving time for the amendments that are that much more important.

And I certainly hope that, unlike I have seen throughout the process already, this en bloc of bipartisan amendments, this en bloc of really Democratic amendments that have been accepted on a bipartisan basis, could be the linchpin. As we move forward today, I certainly hope that my friends on the other side of the aisle can accept some Republican amendments because we have yet to accept one. So I hope this is a goodwill gesture that will lead to more bipartisanship as the day goes on.

Again, while I and many members of our conference may not have supported these amendments individually, we felt it was a good faith effort to be able to work together. And, again, I want to thank my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, especially with the House Administration Committee, a committee that has done its due diligence in putting a massive, mammoth bill forward to the floor today. I still have problems with the process, I still have problems with the overall bill, but this en bloc amendment should not be one of those.


Ms. LOFGREN. Madam Chair, a few of the Members who have offered amendments would like to speak briefly on them.

Madam Chair, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from California (Mr. Harder).


Ms. LOFGREN. Madam Chair, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. O'Halleran), who has several amendments.


Ms. LOFGREN. Madam Chair, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Schneider), who has an amendment here.


Ms. LOFGREN. Madam Chair, I yield back the balance of my time.


Ms. LOFGREN. Madam Chair, I claim the time in opposition to the amendment.


Ms. LOFGREN. Madam Chair, I must oppose the gentleman's amendment. It strips the subpoena power from the Director of the Office of Government Ethics.

Recent years have made it clear that the OGE needs to be strengthened. The subpoena power is a key enforcement tool, and a necessary one, for the Office of Government Ethics.

The former head of OGE said, in working with the current administration it has become clear we need to strengthen the ethics program. That individual resigned as head of the agency in July of last year, after almost 5 years as its head.

The OGE was set up in the aftermath of the 1970 Watergate scandal to clean up government. Some of that cleanup has relied on norms of behavior that are no longer in effect. We need to make sure that we have the ability with the OGE head to actually obtain information so they can do their job.

I do want to touch on a few other points raised by the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Hice).

You know, there has been a lot of discussion over and over that the small donor program is funded by taxpayers. That is incorrect. You can just read the bill and see that is incorrect.

The freedom from influence fund is entirely funded by a nominal, additional assessment on criminal tax fraud cases, at the upper end, and corporate malfeasance fines and forfeitures. That is the entire source of funding. If there is not enough funding from those sources to fully fund the program, then the program is not fully funded.

That is in the bill itself; so I think it is important that we all understand that.

In terms of the automatic voter registration system, this has worked very successfully in a number of States, and six more are in the process of implementing it.

There are quite a few--we think, ample--safeguards to make sure that only those eligible to vote are, in fact, registered to vote. AVR agencies have reliable data about citizenship status and age, and there are separate rules for those agencies that don't collect that information.

I would note, also, that there has been discussion about how this is an unfair Federal imposition on States. This is only for Federal elections. This whole bill, H.R. 1, is about Federal elections. And why is that? Article I, Section 4 gives the authority to Congress to pass laws about the conduct of Federal elections.

We have seen over and over, throughout the United States, efforts to suppress the vote in ways we think are improper by purging eligible voters from the rolls, by preventing people from registering through bogus and arcane ID rolls, by making sure that voters can't get to the polls because they have moved the polls, by eliminating early voting that is so helpful to people who work so hard that they might not be able to get to the polls before the poll closes. So this is for Federal elections.

And why is that important? Each one of us here in the House of Representatives has one vote. That is as it should be, as the Founders established it.

The people who send us here should have the equivalent right to vote for their Representative. There shouldn't be a way that one person in one State has an adequate right to vote but the vote is suppressed in some other State. That is not democracy; that is not fair; and that is what H.R. 1 will fix.

Madam Chair, I urge that we oppose the gentleman from Georgia's amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.


Ms. LOFGREN. Madam Chairwoman, I claim the time in opposition to the amendment.


Ms. LOFGREN. Madam Chair, I rise in opposition to this amendment, reluctantly, because it is only the last paragraph in the amendment that causes concern.

The amendment expresses a sense of Congress that free speech should be protected. Who can disagree with that? Our Founding Fathers envisioned a robust and open discourse. They did not fathom speech that was unaccountable to anonymous corporations that would drown out the voices of individual Americans.

The concern we have on this amendment is the last paragraph, really, is an attempt to protect the Citizens United decision and the flow of unlimited dark money into our politics and elections.

It is important to note that, under the guise of free speech, some are suggesting that we need to protect anonymous special interests. Nothing stops people or entities from donating to political campaigns or politicians, but they must be transparent about it.

Justice Brandeis indicated, and I think he is very wise, that sunshine is the best disinfectant, and the American people cannot fully exercise their First Amendment rights if they do not have all of the information necessary to react in an informed manner.

We all have the right to know who is trying to influence elections, and it may well change our minds if we know who is saying what. Ultimately, this amendment is flawed because disclosure does not limit speech.

In Citizens United, the Court affirmed holdings in other cases, that disclaimer and disclosure requirements impose no ceiling on campaign- related activities and do not prevent anyone from speaking. Indeed, the Court held the disclosure is ``a less restrictive alternative to more comprehensive regulations.''

Lauded conservatives have long espoused this principle, and the Supreme Court has repeatedly endorsed disclosure because it helps voters hold elected leaders accountable. In fact, eight of the nine Supreme Court Justices upheld disclosure in the Citizens United case as necessary for voters to hold leaders accountable.

Perhaps no one said it better than Justice Antonin Scalia in Doe v. Reed. Justice Scalia said: ``Requiring people to stand up in public for their political acts fosters civic courage, without which democracy is doomed.''

Much has been said about the ACLU, and I appreciate what the ACLU does on many scores, but they have a storied history of litigating constitutional issues that I support. However, we have differed on our approach to campaign finance laws. They have upheld and supported the Citizens United decision and they oppose McCain-Feingold. While I support so much of the good work they do, I think they are mistaken on this issue.

I include in the Record a letter from Democracy 21, which is a very thoughtful rebuttal to the ACLU's position. Democracy 21, March 7, 2019. Re Response to ACLU Letter on H.R. 1.

Dear Representative: Democracy 21 strongly supports H.R. 1, the ``For the People Act of 2019,'' and urges you to vote for the legislation, which is the most comprehensive effort to repair our democracy since the post-Watergate reforms of the 1970's.

In particular, the bill contains a series of important reforms to address serious problems with our campaign finance system. The legislation provides a small donor, matching funds system for House and presidential elections that will encourage small donations and remove candidate dependence on wealthy contributors and special interest money. It also contains important improvements to the disclosure laws to address the growing problem of undisclosed ``dark money'' that is being spent to influence federal elections. And it provides effective standards to ensure that supposedly ``independent'' spending is not done in cooperation or coordination with candidates or their agents, thus evading contribution limits.

We want to address constitutional concerns about some of these measures that have been raised by the ACLU in a letter dated March 6, 2019. We note that the ACLU has participated as a plaintiff or amicus to seek invalidation of reform measures in key Supreme Court cases, including Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976), McConnell v. FEC, 540 U.S. 93 (2003) and Citizens United v. FEC, 130 S.Ct. 876 (2010). Many of the ACLU's challenges to campaign finance reform measures, including disclosure requirements, were rejected by the Court in these cases. ACLU concerns about disclosure provisions

The provisions of the DISCLOSE Act incorporated into H.R. 1 are essential to closing gaping disclosure loopholes through which, in the last four elections, wealthy donors and special interests gave $1 billion in secret, unlimited contributions to nonprofit groups that spent the money to influence federal elections. Unlimited, secret contributions, also known as dark money, are the most dangerous contributions in American politics because there is no way to hold the donor and officeholder accountable for corrupt practices.

In its March 6 letter, the ACLU particularly criticizes the DISCLOSE Act incorporated into H.R. 1. Those provisions require disclosure of the sources of funding used for ``campaign-related disbursements'' that are intended to influence federal elections. Dating back to the Buckley case, and as reaffirmed in Citizens United, the Supreme Court has consistently upheld disclosure requirements because they serve the important governmental interests of ``providing the electorate with information about the sources of election- related spending'' in order to help citizens ``make informed choices in the political marketplace.'' Citizens United, 130 S. Ct. at 914.

As Justice Kennedy wrote for an 8-1 majority in Citizens United, disclosure provisions ``impose no ceiling on campaign-related activities'' and ``do not prevent anyone from speaking.'' Id. In Citizens United, the Supreme Court upheld disclosure provisions applicable to section 501(c)(4) nonprofit groups.

The ACLU's principal objection is that H.R. 1 requires disclosure of spending that ``reaches beyond the bounds'' of express advocacy. ACLU Ltr. at 12. Yet the Court in Citizens United addressed precisely this issue and upheld a disclosure requirement for a broadcast ad that referred to a candidate in the pre-election period, but that did not contain express advocacy.

The Court explicitly stated that ``we reject Citizens United's contention that the disclosure requirement must be limited to speech that is the functional equivalent of express advocacy.'' Id. at 916.

Thus, the principal constitutional argument raised by the ACLU with regard to the DISCLOSE Act--that disclosure requirements cannot extend beyond express advocacy--has already been squarely and overwhelmingly rejected by an 8 to 1 vote in the Supreme Court. While the ACLU states that it particularly objects to disclosure requirements for ``electioneering communications,'' i.e., non-express advocacy ads that refer to a candidate in the pre-election period, ACLU Ltr. at 13, this is the very issue that the Court addressed in upholding such disclosure requirements in Citizens United.

The ACLU also objects to disclosure requirements for money spent on ads that promote, support, attack or oppose (PASO) the election of a candidate, complaining about ``applying vague and subjective standards to regulation of political speech.'' ACLU Ltr. at 14. Yet again, the Supreme Court directly addressed this issue, and rejected an identical criticism of the same test in the McConnell case.

In McConnell, the Court stated that the words used in the PASO test--promote, attack, support, oppose--are not unconstitutionally vague because they `` `provide explicit standards for those who apply them' and `give the person of ordinary intelligence a reasonable opportunity to know what is prohibited.' '' 540 U.S. at 170 n. 64 (internal citations omitted).

The Court further stated that ``any public communication that promotes or attacks a clearly identified federal candidate directly affects the election in which he is participating. The record on this score could scarcely be more abundant.'' Id. at 170. These rulings should put to rest the objections raised by the ACLU about the PASO test.

The ACLU also raises privacy and associational concerns with the disclosure requirements in the legislation. It invokes the Court's decision in NAACP v. Alabama, 357 U.S. 459 (1958), which protected the associational interests of a civil rights group against disclosure of the group's membership lists when the group was under attack from government officials in the 1950s South. We note that the NAACP today is itself a supporter of H.R. 1, and that the disclosure provisions in H.R. 1 could not be more different from the disclosure requirements addressed by the Court in the 1958 NAACP decision.

The DISCLOSE Act provisions in H.R. 1 require disclosure only of donors who give $10,000 or more in a two-year election cycle to a group which engages in campaign-related spending. That high dollar threshold alone will exclude disclosure of the vast majority of donors to, and members of, most membership organizations, and instead will require disclosure only of very large donors to such groups.

Furthermore, the Supreme Court in both Buckley and McConnell has already rejected the analogy between campaign finance disclosure requirements and the disclosure of membership lists that was struck down in the NAACP case. The Court said in McConnell, ``In Buckley, unlike NAACP, we found no evidence that any party had been exposed to economic reprisals or physical threats as a result of the compelled disclosure.'' Id. at 198.

Indeed, H.R. 1 has an explicit safe harbor from disclosure for any donor who may be subject to ``serious threats, harassment or reprisals.'' Sec. 4111(a) adding Sec. 324(a)(3)(C). This again aligns with the Supreme Court's requirements on this issue.

The Court has made clear that disclosure requirements are not invalid because of a generalized or theoretical concern about ``public harassment,'' but instead are invalid only in specific cases where a group can show a ``reasonable probability'' that disclosing the names of its contributors would ``subject them to threats, harassment, or reprisals from either Government officials or private parties.'' Citizens United, 130 S.Ct. at 916.

Absent such a showing, campaign finance disclosure requirements are constitutional. And even if there is such a specific showing of a specific threat, the disclosure requirements would be held unconstitutional only for the specific group involved based on the specific showing of harm to that group. The disclosure laws would otherwise remain constitutional.

The ACLU states a concern that the bill would ``require disclosure of an overbroad number of donors,'' ACLU Ltr. at 15, but it fails to acknowledge or to give proper weight to other protections for privacy interests that are contained in the bill. A group can set up a separate bank account for its spending on campaign-related disbursements and then is required to disclose only those donors of $10,000 or more to this separate account. All other donors to the organization would not be disclosed.

In addition, any donor can restrict his or her donation to the organization from being used for campaign-related disbursements. If the group agrees to the restriction and segregates the money, the identity of the donor is not disclosed. By these measures, groups and donors can ensure that donors whose funds are not used for campaign-related expenditures are not subject to any disclosure, thereby respecting any donor's particularized privacy interests. ACLU concerns about coordination provisions

A second area of concern with H.R. 1 raised by the ACLU is the provisions related to strengthening the coordination rules in the campaign finance laws. These rules play a major role in protecting the integrity and efficacy of contribution limits which are, in turn, the major bulwark against corruption.

While independent spending is not subject to contribution limits, any spending that is coordinated with a candidate or his agents is treated as a contribution and therefore is subject to limits. Because of weak rules and even weaker enforcement by the Federal Election Commission, the existing coordination rules do not effectively restrain campaign- related spending by Super PACs, nonprofit groups and other outside spenders from being functionally coordinated with the candidates supported by the spending.

In this fashion, the rise of individual-candidate Super PACs has played an especially pernicious role. These Super PACs are typically set up with the involvement of the candidate or his or her close associates, and the candidate is often involved in helping to raise unlimited huge contributions for the Super PAC.

This money is then spent, purportedly independently of the candidate, to promote the candidate's election. But because there are not effective rules against coordination, these individual-candidate Super PACs have operated in de facto coordination with the candidates they are set up to support. In practice, they have become dedicated soft money campaign accounts for candidates, thus eviscerating the contribution limits which should apply to money raised and spent by federal candidates.

While the use of individual-candidate Super PACs began after Citizens United with presidential candidates in 2012, they rapidly have spread to congressional races. By the 2018 election cycle, 259 individual-candidate Super PACs supporting federal officeholders and other candidates had raised $176 million in unlimited contributions.

The coordination provisions in H.R. 1 strengthen existing coordination rules to conform to Supreme Court decisions which require independent spending to be ``totally'' independent of a candidate. Buckley, 424 U.S. at 47.

The ACLU tempers its objections to these provisions of the bill, noting that it ``strongly supports stricter enforcement of rules restricting coordination between campaigns and outside groups'' and acknowledging that ``H.R. 1 would make strides in the right direction by clarifying the definition of coordinated expenditures treated as contributions to a campaign.'' ACLU Ltr. at 17. Yet it objects that the definition of coordination could encompass ``communications with the candidate about the public policy issues of the day without a sufficient nexus to the potential corrupting influence of very large expenditures.'' Id. at 18.

In stating this objection, the ACLU fails to give proper weight to an explicit provision in the bill which protects such communications by creating a safe harbor from application of the coordination rules for any person's ``discussions with the candidate or committee, or with any agent of the candidate or committee, regarding that person's position on a legislative or policy matter (including urging the candidate or committee to adopt that person's position) . . .'' Sec. 6102 adding sec. 326(b)(2).

The ACLU acknowledges this safe harbor, Ltr. at 19, but misinterprets it. As set forth in the text of the bill, the safe harbor applies to legislative or policy discussion ``so long as there is no communication between the person and the candidate or committee . . . regarding the candidate's or committee's campaign advertising, message, strategy or policy,'' id. (emphasis added).

The ACLU's concern that ``[d]iscussion of `message' or `policy' is integral to discussion of legislative and policy positions,'' id., is already adequately addressed by the safe harbor provision, which permits all legislative message and policy discussion so long as it is not about campaign policy, or the campaign's message.

Raising additional concerns, the ACLU objects to treatment as a coordinated expenditure of a payment by an outside spender for republication of a candidate's own campaign material, although it correctly notes that this same republication provision has long been part of existing law. ACLU Ltr. at 18. It notes that there are regulations issued by the FEC which have interpreted this provision of existing law, and claims those regulations are necessary to the constitutionality of the law. Even if true, there is nothing in H.R. 1 which would prevent the FEC from similarly construing the bill's re-promulgation of the same republication language, which is all that the bill does on this matter.

Finally, the ACLU notes that the coordination provisions of H.R. 1 create a new category of ``coordinated spenders,'' based on certain specified relationships, activities or status between candidates and outside spenders. The bill then provides that certain specified categories of campaign- related spending by such ``coordinated spenders'' will be treated as coordinated. The ACLU questions whether such treatment can be ``based solely upon a speaker's identity.'' ACLU Ltr. at 19.

This is, at best, a half-hearted objection because the ACLU also then ``agrees that a speaker's identity coupled with the contents of the communications can be factors in determining whether a particular communication was coordinated with a candidate such that it should be considered a campaign contribution.'' Id. The ACLU nonetheless questions whether spending can be treated as coordinated ``absent any additional information indicating the speaker acted pursuant to a common plan.'' Id.

But the Court has never limited the definition of coordinated spending only to spending pursuant to an explicit discussion about, or a ``common plan'' for, a particular expenditure. The Court has instead cast a wide net in demanding that independent spending be ``totally independent,'' Buckley, 424 U.S. at 29, and ``not pursuant to any general or particular understanding with a candidate,'' Colorado Republican Federal Campaign Committee v. FEC, 518 U.S. 604, 614 (1996), and ``truly independent'' or ``without any candidate's approval (or wink or nod).'' FEC v. Colorado Republican Federal Campaign Committee, 533 U.S. 431, 442 (2001).

The standards set forth in H.R. 1 look both to certain relationships between the outside spender and the candidate, and certain activities between the outside spender and the candidate, to determine whether the spending meets the standard set by the Court of being ``totally'' and ``truly'' independent. If the relationship between the candidate and spender, or the activities of the candidate on behalf of the spender (such as helping to fundraise for the spender), indicate that they do not meet this high standard for true independence, then the proposed rule would appropriately deem spending by that person to be coordinated. Conclusion

The reforms contained in H.R. 1 will make essential improvements in the transparency of the money spent to influence federal elections and in shutting down avenues that are currently being exploited to evade and eviscerate candidate contribution limits. The bill is carefully drafted to conform to the Supreme Court's campaign finance rulings, and to appropriately balance constitutionally protected privacy and speech interests with the government's compelling interests in deterring corruption and the appearance of corruption through disclosure and the restoration of effective contribution limits.

Democracy 21 urges you to vote for H.R. 1. Sincerely, Fred Wertheimer,

President. Donald J. Simon,



Ms. LOFGREN. Madam Chair, I would note, also, that we have just received a letter from The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights expressing their strong support for H.R. 1. This is an organization that no one can fault for their firm leadership on human, civil, and constitutional rights for many decades.

I include in the Record a letter from The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Washington, DC, March 1, 2019. Support H.R. 1, the For The People Act.

Dear Representative: On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of more than 200 national organizations committed to promoting and protecting the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States, and the 50 undersigned organizations, we write in strong support of H.R. 1, the For the People Act.

H.R. 1 represents a transformative vision for American democracy. It would create a democracy that welcomes every eligible voter's chance to participate in civic life, and a democracy that demands integrity, fairness, and transparency in our nation's elections. For far too long, voter suppression has been a shameful reality in our country-- undercutting the power and representation of African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, and other groups historically excluded from our political process. The ability to meaningfully participate in our democracy is a racial justice issue. It is a civil rights issue. And the need for legislative action is urgent. We commend the 235 House co-sponsors of this critical legislation.

Our nation will soon mark the 54th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march, where John Lewis and 600 voting rights activists were viciously beaten and attacked on March 7, 1965 on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. History was made in August 1965 with the passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act (``VRA''), which sought to end racial discrimination at the ballot box. Nearly five decades later, in 2013, five justices of the Supreme Court gutted the VRA's most powerful tool--the preclearance system. That system had enabled the Justice Department and federal courts to block proposed discriminatory voting restrictions in states with well-documented histories of discrimination.

In the aftermath of the Shelby County v. Holder decision, North Carolina, Texas, and other jurisdictions previously covered in whole or part by the VRA preclearance requirement began to implement voter suppression laws. In striking down the North Carolina law in 2016, the Fourth Circuit described the law as ``the most restrictive voting law North Carolina has seen since the era of Jim Crow'' with provisions that ``target African Americans with almost surgical precision.'' There have been findings of intentional discrimination in at least 10 voting rights decisions since Shelby County.

The Trump administration has only made matters worse by damaging our democracy and institutions--from elections to the census to the free press. The administration's assault on voting rights can be seen in the creation of the sham Pence- Kobach commission, a political ploy that was ultimately discredited and disbanded. We also saw it in its defense of Texas's discriminatory photo ID law and Ohio's voter purge efforts. The Trump administration has not filed a single VRA case, despite numerous recent state and local efforts to block access to the ballot in communities of color. Yet the Trump administration cited its need to enforce the VRA as its justification for adding an untested citizenship question to the 2020 Census--a justification that a federal judge recently found to be pretextual and unlawful.

People turned out in record numbers during the 2018 election to reject this assault on voting rights and cast their votes for democracy reform. Not only is this reflected in the most diverse Congress in our nation's history, but voters also cast their ballot to end gerrymandering and make voting more accessible in red and blue states across the country. However, many states continue to create barriers to voting, and that is why H.R. 1 is so critical.

H.R. 1 would enhance and ensure democracy in America by:

Committing to restoring the Voting Rights Act: H.R. 1 contains a commitment to restoring the landmark VRA and updating its preclearance provision, which is crucial to ensuring that our political process functions fairly and equitably. VRA restoration is being pursued on a separate legislative track that will involve investigatory and evidentiary hearings, thus enabling Congress to update the preclearance coverage formula and develop a full record on the continuing problem of racial discrimination in voting. In 2006, the VRA was reauthorized on a unanimous vote in the Senate and a near-unanimous vote in the House. We need the same type of broad and bipartisan support for restoring the VRA today. Safeguarding democracy should not be a partisan issue.

Restoring voting rights for formerly incarcerated people: H.R. 1 would restore voting rights for people with felony convictions, a necessary repudiation of our nation's discriminatory and racially violent past. This would re- enfranchise approximately 4.7 million voters nationwide. Reforming felony disenfranchisement has bipartisan support; last November, 65 percent of Florida voters cast their ballots to restore the right to vote for over 1.4 million people.

Reforming voter registration: In the November 2016 election, nearly 20 percent of people who were eligible but did not vote cited registration hurdles as the main reason for not voting. H.R. 1 would modernize America's voter registration system and improve access to the ballot box by establishing automatic voter registration (``AVR''), same day registration (``SDR''), and online voter registration for voters across the country, and by ensuring that all voter registration systems are inclusive and accessible for people with disabilities. AVR alone could add an estimated 50 million people to the voter rolls and SDR increases voter turnout by roughly 10 percent.

Combating voter purging: H.R. 1 would overturn the Supreme Court's troubling 2018 decision in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute that allowed Ohio to conduct massive purges from its voter rolls based on non-voting in past elections. Such practices disproportionately target and remove traditionally marginalized people from registration rolls. Voting should not be a ``use it or lose it'' right.

Prohibiting deceptive practices and voter intimidation: H.R. 1 would ban the distribution of false information about elections to hinder or discourage voting. This provision is particularly important in an era in which Facebook and other digital platforms have been readily manipulated to spread misinformation about the time, place, and manner of voting to vulnerable communities. The bill would also increase the criminal penalties for intimidating a voter for the purpose of interfering with their right to vote, or causing them to vote for or against a candidate.

Banning voter caging: H.R. 1 would ban voter caging and prevent challenges to voters' eligibility to vote by individuals who are not election officials, unless the challenge is accompanied by an oath under penalty of perjury that the challenger has a good faith factual basis to believe the person is ineligible to vote or register to vote.

Creating a federal holiday and ensuring early voting and polling place notice: H.R. 1 would make Election Day a federal holiday. It would also require at least 15 consecutive days of early voting, including weekends, in federal elections and ensure that early voting polling places are accessible by public transportation. The bill would also require that voters be given a minimum of seven days' notice if the state decides to change their polling place location.

Reforming redistricting: H.R. 1 would be a milestone in the battle against the extreme partisan gerrymandering our country has witnessed in recent years, by requiring states to draw congressional districts using independent redistricting commissions that are bipartisan and reflect the demographic diversity of the region. The bill would establish fair redistricting criteria and ensure compliance with the VRA to safeguard voting rights for communities of color.

Modernizing election administration: H.R. 1 would reauthorize the Election Assistance Commission--an independent, bipartisan commission that plays a vital role in ensuring the reliability and security of voting equipment used in our nation's elections. It would also promote election reliability and security by requiring voter-verified permanent paper ballots and enhanced poll worker recruitment and training. And H.R. 1 would prohibit state election administrators from taking an active part in a political campaign over which they have supervisory authority.

H.R. 1 would also make significant advances in the areas of campaign finance and ethics reform. It would correct the rampant corruption flowing from the corrosive power of money in our elections. It would replace the current campaign finance system that empowers the super-rich and big corporations with one that relies on small donors and public matching funds. It would end secret election spending and force disclosure of all election-related spending. And it would call for a constitutional amendment to overturn the disturbing Citizens United decision that made it impossible to restrict outside spending by corporations or billionaires. In addition, H.R. 1 addresses our government ethics crisis by, among other things, requiring the development of a code of conduct for Supreme Court Justices to enhance accountability on ethics and recusal issues; overhauling the Office of Government Ethics to strengthen federal ethics oversight; establishing more robust conflict of interest requirements for government officials; prohibiting members of Congress from using taxpayer dollars to settle allegations of employment discrimination; and requiring presidents to disclose their tax returns.

H.R. 1--the For the People Act--provides a North Star for the democracy reform agenda. It is a bold, comprehensive reform package that offers solutions to a broken democracy. Repairing and modernizing our voting system goes hand in hand with reforms that address the rampant corruption flowing from the corrosive power of money in our elections, and reforms that address the myriad ethical problems that plague all three branches of the federal government. The reforms in H.R. 1 are necessary to advance racial justice and ensure that our government works for all people, not just a powerful few. The civil and human rights coalition is strongly committed to expanding the franchise and fixing our democracy, and we urge Congress to pass this historic legislation. Sincerely,

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; AFL- CIO; African American Ministers In Action; American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees; American Federation of Teachers; Asian Americans Advancing Justice; Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO; Brennan Center for Justice; Center for Community Self-Help; Center for Constitutional Rights; Center for Responsible Lending; CLASP; Clearinghouse on Women's Issues; Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA); Common Cause.

Council on American-Islamic Relations; Demos; Fair Elections Center; Faith in Public Life; Feminist Majority Foundation; Franciscan Action Network; Hispanic Federation; Human Rights Campaign; Justice for Migrant Women; Juvenile Law Center; Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; League of Conservation Voters; League of Women Voters; U.S. MALDEF; Matthew Shepard Foundation.

Muslim Public Affairs Council; NAACP; NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.; NARAL Pro-Choice America; National Action Network; National Association of Social Workers; National Center for Transgender Equality; National Coalition for the Homeless; National Council of Jewish Women; National Education Association; National Employment Law Project.

National Employment Lawyers Association; National Immigration Law Center; National Organization for Women; NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice; People For the American Way; Planned Parenthood Federation of America; Prison Policy Initiative; Service Employees International Union (SEIU); Sierra Club; UFCW Minority Coalition.

Ms. LOFGREN. Madam Chair, we have no additional speakers at this point.

I would just note that--and I understand the gentleman's points one through four. I completely agree. It is number five in your amendment that causes me concern about whether there is actually an undercutting of H.R. 1's disclosure requirements, and that is the concern we have and why I am so sorry that I cannot support the amendment.

I do think that we have a disagreement over disclosure. I don't understand why, because the Supreme Court, including Justice Scalia, recommended that to us, and we never followed up with Justice Scalia's admonition that we should have disclosure as a remedy for concern over unlimited money.


Ms. LOFGREN. Madam Chair, I understand, but the concern that has been expressed to me by a number of people who have read this, probably lawyers who spent more time on constitutional cases than I have, is that the concern is that this, as a part of the bill, would undercut the disclosure requirements that are established within it, and that is the reason we cannot come to an agreement.


Ms. LOFGREN. This is a splendid amendment. It will do a lot to allow young people to channel their excitement and to understand they are important and they are going to be participating as voters when they turn 18. It works well with the amendment that will be offered by Mr. Neguse later that allows for preregistration of 16- and 17-year-olds so that when they turn 18 they will automatically be registered to vote.

I know that there is some concern on both sides of the aisle about the idea of a 16-year-old preregistering, that change in the voting eligibility. We don't know how that amendment will turn out, but certainly these amendments would do much to make sure that young people are thoroughly connected to our government and understand that the government belongs to them and their families.

Madam Chair, I thank the gentleman for yielding.


Ms. LOFGREN. Madam Chair, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding.

Madam Chair, nothing in H.R. 1 impacts any State law that requires an individual who has been convicted of an offense against a child staying away from a school. Luckily, we have vote-by-mail and early voting at county facilities in the bill, so that is really not a real issue.


Ms. LOFGREN. Madam Chair, I claim the time in opposition to the amendment.


Ms. LOFGREN. Madam Chair, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

This amendment aims to exempt States that have taken measures to increase voter turnout that are not subject to additional Federal voter registration mandates, and I think what it really does is undermine the progress that would be made under H.R. 1.

In November of 2016, the general election, nearly one in five people who were eligible to vote but who did not vote cited registration issues as their main reason for not casting a ballot.

H.R. 1 sets a national standard for voter registration and access to the ballot in Federal elections.

Now, an improvement in participation rates is fine, but it doesn't mean that proven programs, such as the automatic voter registration program, aren't necessary.

You know, automatic voter registration is not simply to increase turnout. It serves a more fundamental purpose: to protect the right to vote by removing bureaucracy and obstacles from the process of registering to vote.

Now, nearly every State that has implemented automatic voter registration has seen dramatically increased registration rates. High rates of voter registration are inherently healthy for a democracy.

Madam Chair, I include in the Record a letter that I received just yesterday from Kate Brown, the Governor of Oregon. State of Oregon, March 6, 2019.

Dear Members of Congress: I write in strong support of H.R. 1, the For the People Act of 2019, which includes bold and necessary reforms to strengthen our democracy, protect and expand voting rights for all Americans, and improve campaign finance laws. As the Governor of Oregon and former Secretary of State, this is an issue that I--like many Americans--care deeply about, and I urge you to vote in support of this legislation.

Voting is our country's greatest collective responsibility, and we must work continuously to safeguard the sanctity of our elections. Across the country, the fundamental right of voting itself is increasingly at risk. More states are moving to obstruct voting rights than are increasing access to the ballot. It's imperative that Congress take action to bolster our democracy and fight every effort to undermine it by ensuring that, as a country, we are making it easier, not harder, for people to have their voices heard.

Several key provisions in H.R. 1 reflect the work that Oregon has done to lead the way on expanding voter access, including creating a national automatic voter registration system, allowing citizens to register to vote online, and expanding vote-by-mail.

As you know, Oregon was the first state to pass automatic voter registration (AVR) in 2015. This law, combined with our vote-by-mail election system, makes Oregon the most modern, efficient, and secure state to vote in the country. Oregon's AVR program has added nearly 400,000 voters to the state rolls, already significantly increased voter turnout, and has ensured 90 percent of eligible voters in our state are registered.

Across the country, this success is being recognized and replicated. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have since adopted some form of automatic voter registration. These reforms have been successful in creating a stronger and more inclusive democracy. And here in Oregon, it's supported by both Democrats and Republicans.

Every eligible voter in the U.S. should have equal, easy access to the ballot box, and I commend Congress for their focus on this critical issue. This week, I urge you to pass this important legislation. Sincerely, Governer Kate Brown.


Ms. LOFGREN. Madam Chair, Governor Brown notes that Oregon was the first State to have automatic voter registration. It went into effect in 2015 and has added nearly 400,000 voters to the State rolls. Nearly 90 percent of eligible voters are, in fact, registered to vote. What that means is they can participate in our elections, which I think is very important.


Ms. LOFGREN. Madam Chair, I appreciate the spirit with which this amendment is offered, but I disagree.

This is about Federal elections. The Constitution says that the Congress has the ability to promulgate laws about Federal elections.

The reason why we are looking at it is there have been States who have gone into AVR, they are grandfathered into the bill, but the problematic States are those States that are trying to suppress the vote, trying to keep people from voting, and we need to do something about that.

Madam Chair, while we are here, I do want to say something about, not the gentleman's comments, but the prior comments of the ranking member about the costs of the bill.

We have a score from CBO, and almost all the money that CBO has scored goes to grants to the States to upgrade their computer systems: $1.5 billion from 2019 to 2024; 750 for other computer assistance; and the other big amount is for making polling places accessible to disabled voters. So it is not about the other provisions in the bill.

I would also like to note, and I put this into the Record yesterday, the Joint Committee on Taxation has estimated that the fine and forfeiture fund that will go into the Freedom From Influence Fund is estimated to raise $1.948 billion between 2019 and 2029. They also estimate that it will reduce the deficit by $83 million, which is interesting, because it will deter people from cheating on their taxes. So the comments made about the money were simply incorrect.

I know that the Joint Committee on Taxation material is in the Record under general leave. I will make sure that the CBO report is also included.

Madam Chair, I would just end with this: I appreciate the tone of the gentleman's arguments and the intent of his amendment, but I do think it severely undercuts the advances that H.R. 1 would make.

Madam Chair, I urge a ``no'' vote, and I yield back the balance of my time.


Ms. LOFGREN. Madam Chair, I think there has been a lot of talk about transparency today. We have had a transparent process in the committees, 15 hours of hearings, but this repeals a rider that was privately put on an appropriations bill by Republicans to prevent the SEC from doing something that they want to do.

Let's get real. I mean, this actually just undoes a secret rider on an appropriations bill. This is the way bad law gets made.

We are here in the middle of the day, in public, debating amendments, not secretly putting little riders on appropriations bills that hamstrung the SEC for making sure that there is sunlight on what corporations are doing.

I thank the gentleman for yielding.


Ms. LOFGREN. Madam Chair, just to note, Congress never intended for 501(c), for social welfare organizations to just be conduits for dark campaign spending.

In exchange for nonprofit status and tax exempt status, the law requires them to engage exclusively in the promotion of social welfare.

Now, how is that defined? The IRS was trying to get a bright line on that, but they were stopped by a secret rider put in an appropriations bill.

Obviously, the appropriation at large got votes from both sides of the aisle because you need to keep the government down. But that is not the way you legislate. That is a sneaky way to change the law.

To repeal this provision of H.R. 1 would be a huge mistake, because what we are doing is setting things right so that people know what they can do and what they can't do.

Yes, you can speak, but don't expect to get a tax break because you are speaking about politics. You get a tax break because you are doing charitable work.

Madam Chair, I thank the gentleman for yielding.


Ms. LOFGREN. Madam Chair, I think this amendment improves the bill. It revises the election infrastructure grant program and includes an emphasis on increasing voter participation, in addition to the emphasis on improving election infrastructure that is currently included in H.R. 1.

I am especially pleased that it engages the National Institute of Standards and Technology, NIST, which is really the premier agency to help us on technical issues. So I think it is a very good amendment.

And while I have the floor, I would like to note that I will include in the Record a letter from the AFL-CIO and a letter from the American Federation of Teachers urging support of H.R. 1. AFL-CIO, Washington, DC, March 5, 2019. United States House, Washington, DC.

Dear Representative: On behalf of the AFL-CIO, I am writing to express our strong support for H.R. 1, the ``For the People Act of 2019.'' By expanding access to the ballot box, reducing the influence of big money in politics and strengthening ethics rules for public servants, this legislation includes many of the most important reforms necessary to restore the promise of our democracy.

For years, right-wing groups backed by wealthy donors have been working aggressively to suppress the right of every American citizen to cast a ballot. They have supported laws to make it harder to register and to vote and they have used the corrosive power of money to drown out the voices of working people.

H.R. I would expand the franchise by promoting early voting, same day and online registration. It would create a system of public financing powered by small donations and require super PACS and dark money political organizations to make their donors public. It would restore voting rights for formerly incarcerated individuals and commit Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act to end racial discrimination in voting.

Record wealth inequality, mass incarceration and low voter turnout are all symptoms of a broken political system. AFL- CIO proudly supports H.R. 1 as we continue the fight to fix our democracy and restore the balance of power to working people. Sincerely, William Samuel, Director, Government Affairs Department. ____ American Federation of Teachers, Washington, DC, March 6, 2019. House of Representatives, Washington, DC.

Dear Representative: On behalf of the 1.7 million members of the American Federation of Teachers, I urge you to vote YES on H.R. 1, the For the People Act of 2019.

There is no question that we have seen an erosion of voting rights, a loosening or ignoring of ethics rules and conduct, and an ever-increasing presence of big money in elections. All of this undermines America's democracy. That is why passage of H.R. 1 is so important. It represents a historic effort to restore both the rights of working people and the promise of our nation's democracy. It will give power back to the people by limiting the influence of the corrupt and by expanding voting rights for all Americans.

The For the People Act will strengthen the government's ethics laws while imposing much-needed restrictions on campaign finance regulations. For far too long, the influence of money in politics--especially unaccountable ``dark money'' funneled into our system by wealthy individuals and large companies--has been a negative force in elections across our nation. The bill will put an end to anonymous election spending and force disclosure of all election-related spending.

The AFT also strongly supports H.R. 1's call for a constitutional amendment to overturn the disturbing Citizens United decision. This case has had a corrosive effect on our democracy, giving powerful corporations a disproportionate amount of influence in our elections. Since this case was decided, big corporations have been using their record profits to try to silence the voices of hardworking Americans. No donor should be able to hide its identity as it floods the system with hundreds of millions of dollars in an effort to pass an extreme agenda that will gut the salary, healthcare and pensions of workers.

It's time to restore balance and guarantee that a teacher in Cleveland has the same voice in our democracy as a CEO on Wall Street. H.R. 1 moves us in that direction.

The bill's promise to focus on voting is absolutely essential as a civil rights matter and as a democracy issue. It commits to restoring the Voting Rights Act; restoring voting rights for formerly incarcerated people; reforming voter registration; combating voter purging; prohibiting deceptive practices and voter intimidation; creating a federal holiday for Election Day; ensuring early voting and polling place notice; reforming redistricting; and modernizing election administration.

Expanding voting rights in 2019 is vital to our democracy. It's hard to understand how any members of the House of Representatives would vote against it, yet we have seen all too frequently an allegiance to partisan politics rather than to the basic values of civic participation.

Passage of H.R. 1 will help confront the many real threats facing our democracy today. I hope you will vote YES when it comes up for a vote this week in the House. Sincerely, Randi Weingarten, President.


Ms. LOFGREN. Madam Chairwoman, I appreciate the thoughtful comments made by the ranking member, but I do think this is a special situation, and it is why the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund is in support of this amendment.

As the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund has noticed, the practice of counting prison inmates as part of the district where the prison is located has a disproportionate impact on African American and Latino communities. That is because members of those communities, for a variety of other bad reasons, are incarcerated at higher rates and housed at prisons farther from their homes than other communities.

The gentleman from Illinois is correct. You may be counted in the census at your university dorm, but you can also vote from your university dorm. The inmates can't vote.

Actually, they are properly allocated to the communities where they are from. Doing otherwise has the impact of disenfranchising communities of color around the United States, and that is why this amendment is an important one and why the Brennan Center for Justice and the NAACP supports it.

I thank the gentleman for offering the amendment.


Ms. LOFGREN. Madam Chairwoman, I support this amendment, given the level of foreign interference in the elections in 2016 and 2018 and efforts to penetrate our voting systems. I think it makes sense that we use American-manufactured systems as well as software. But I would note this: this amendment is not proscriptive. It says that ``States shall seek to ensure.'' That is not a mandate to do it. Really, this is saying this is a good thing to do. I think it is a good thing to do.

While I have the microphone, I would like to note that we have just received a letter from 27 religious institutions, including the Alliance of Baptists, African American Ministers In Action, the National Council of Churches, the NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice and the Presbyterian Church in the United States, in favor of H.R. 1, which I include in the Record. March 6, 2019.

Dear Representative: As national faith-based advocates and congregations we urge passage of H.R. 1--the For the People Act. Our organizations strive for policies and systems that diminish inequality, support the most vulnerable, nurture human potential, and protect the health and well-being of all members of our society and of creation. We look to our government to reflect those ideals and we support a strong democracy:

. . . where voting is a fundamental right and a civic responsibility.

. . . that serves the people rather than the private interests of public officials and wealthy political donors.

. . . where our influence is based on the force of ideas, not the size of our wallets.

. . . where people know who is trying to gain influence over our representatives, who is trying to influence our votes, and how and why policy is being made.

. . . that works to respond to the needs of all people and their communities, building trust in governance and equity.

A broken democracy has clear and detrimental impacts on the issues important to us. We are faithful advocates who work within the existing political system, yet that system no longer seems capable of contending with the big problems facing our country, our communities, and our congregations. The faith community offers witness to what is obvious to most Americans: our democracy is out of balance.

The current system allows powerful corporate and wealthy interests to regularly defy the foundational principles of fairness, equity, ethics, accountability, and respect for the rule of law. The unfortunate result is that our government has become more responsive and accountable to wealthy political donors than to the public. Today's broken democratic system subjugates deeply held, age-old values to the profit motive.

People of faith know that Washington is not representing their best interests when millions of Americans who are eligible to vote cannot do so because they are not registered, voter ID laws are used as a tool to suppress the vote, millions of Americans are disenfranchised due to a felony conviction, and a number of states are improperly purging eligible voters from the registration rolls.

People of faith know that Washington is not representing their best interests when congressional districts are drawn to achieve highly partisan results at the expense of fair representation for citizens.

People of faith know that Washington is not representing their best interests when ethics rules governing our highest leaders and decision-makers are deeply flawed and are not subject to proper oversight and enforcement.

People of faith know that Washington is more accountable to corporate interests than to the public when they can spend huge sums of money influencing our elections and our government.

People of faith know that we can't fix the issues that the faith community cares about the most--such as poverty, immigration, climate change, racial justice and health care-- until we fix our democracy.

To that end, the undersigned national faith organizations support H.R. 1, The For the People Act.

We recognize the historic opportunity our country faces to repair our political system and, as people of faith, we are hopeful in the possibility of renewal.

We applaud efforts to reform our election processes and our governing politics so that the interests of all are served, not just those with money.

We support attempts to restore ethical norms which inhibit self-interested corruption on the part of lawmakers.

We support provisions that enhance the influence of low- income and middle-income people on policy-making through their vote and their engagement in the civic body.

We support campaign finance reforms that sustain and encourage elected officials to serve their constituents and to legislate on behalf of the common good.

We embrace reforms that favor accountability and transparency in our government and in our lawmakers' decision-making.

We urge Congress to seize this moment to pass the comprehensive democracy reform H.R. 1.

Alliance of Baptists; African American Ministers In Action; American Friends Service Committee; Church World Service; Conference of Major Superiors of Men; Congregation of Our Lady of the Good Shepherd, US Provinces; Disciples Center for Public Witness; Ecumenical Poverty Initiative; Faith in Action; Faith in Public Life; Franciscan Action Network; Friends Committee on National Legislation; Islamic Society of North America; Jewish Council for Public Affairs; Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd; National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund; National Council of Churches; National Council of Jewish Women; National Religious Campaign Against Torture; NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice; Pax Christi USA; Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); South East Asian Faith Initiatives; United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries; Unitarian Universalist Association; Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice (UUSJ).

Mr. RODNEY DAVIS of Illinois. Madam Chairwoman, again, this amendment, I am opposed to because I believe it is Federal overreach, but I do want to address an issue. As we can see, this would require American manufacturers to begin producing even more pieces of equipment that would then have to comply by the standards of this amendment, which is fine.

I am all for creating American jobs, but we also have a problem with the underlying bill. I tried to pass an amendment in the only markup that happened on this now almost-700-page bill. The amendment would have made sure that anyone who helped craft this bill, especially the special interest groups who were recognized on the day this bill was introduced and announced at a press conference, people who helped write this bill should have to sign a document that says that they will not profit from this.

What doesn't happen is, if somebody who helped craft this bill decides to open a manufacturing facility and make money off of the legislation, we need to know that. Because that amendment did not pass during the markup process, we won't know if that happens.

I would love to work with my colleague from Wisconsin to put a provision in place like that, and at that point in time this may be an amendment I could support.

Before we talk about any more nineties music, I am going to yield back the balance of my time.


Ms. LOFGREN. Madam Chair, I rise in support of the amendment.

This amendment clarifies that the election administration improvement grants that are in the bill may be used by localities or the States to implement and model best practices for ballot design, ballot instructions, and, I will say, testing of ballots, which is very important.

Most of the grants are really oriented towards computer systems, which is also very important, but I have seen some of these ballots where you could see why you could get confused; and, really, if you look at our friends in the tech world, you can design something so you vote yes or no just by the way the design is done.

Now, I think most of the ballot mistakes--there is no evidence it is by intention; it was just error. But you can create something so that people make a mistake.

The last thing we want for the most precious right that we have is for people to make inadvertent errors. We want people to cast their votes for whom they choose and then to have their vote counted for whomever it is they choose. It is that simple.

Madam Chair, I thank the gentlewoman for the amendment. I think it is a good one.


Ms. LOFGREN. Madam Chair, I commend Mr. Beyer and Mr. Butterfield for this amendment providing grants.

Over the period of time that the bill covers, this is actually a pretty small amount of money, and it is subject to appropriations.

I do think it is difficult to put a price on our democracy. We need to make sure that young people are involved from the get-go. We have seen that young people don't necessarily have the tools to become engaged in our democracy.

It is fine if our ranking member gave his instruction to his twins around the dinner table. I commend him for that. But not every person in America has been so fortunate, and we need every American to participate.

I would like to say that this amendment, coupled with Mr. Al Green's amendment for the pilot project and Mr. Neguse's amendment, which will come later in the proceedings, really does put on the agenda outreach to the young people of America to participate in our democracy.

I know that there are people on both sides of the aisle who have concerns about changing the voting age in this bill and want to study that further. For those people, these amendments are going to create vigorous outreach to the young people of America so they can be participants, and I commend the gentlemen for offering it.


Ms. LOFGREN. Madam Chair, first, I would like to thank Congressmen Brown and Crist for an excellent amendment that improves the bill considerably.

On the point just raised by the ranking member, the report given by the Joint Committee on Taxation was put into the Record yesterday, and it is their estimate of how much will be raised, and their estimate that we will reduce the deficit by $83 million.

We are waiting; the CBO is crunching numbers, which is hard to do because each amendment has to be crunched as we go along.

But I will say this: During the markup in the House Administration Committee, we did outline the vessel for the Freedom From Influence Fund. We didn't have the jurisdiction to do the assessment on criminal wrongdoing by corporations and tax cheats, but we did create the Freedom From Influence Fund, and we did create the step-down on the program if there is insufficient funding. So this is not a new thing.

I think it is sound policy.


Ms. LOFGREN. Madam Chair, I just want to say how much I appreciate the amendment offered by Mr. Brown. It improves the bill by making sure that voters are notified, not just 7 days before the poll is moved, but before early voting begins, maximizing the opportunity to actually get to the poll.

Many Americans, right now, have a single day to vote, and if you are a working person, you may not even have time off, you may not even be able to get to the polling place. That is what H.R. 1 is all about.

And just getting to the federalism issue. Article I, section 4 explicitly says, ``Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations'' about Federal elections. That is what we are doing here.

We need to do more because there are jurisdictions in our country that are specifically trying to prevent people from voting based on race. That is why we have got the Voting Rights Act that is going to be coming later. We are compiling the evidentiary record for the Voting Rights Act right now.

But this bill just relates to Federal elections which we have jurisdiction to do. We need to make sure that the efforts to keep people from exercising their right to vote in Federal elections are defeated. That is what H.R. 1 is about. That is what Mr. Brown's amendment is about, and I am grateful to him for offering it.


Ms. LOFGREN. Madam Chair, I would like to commend the gentleman for this amendment.

When you make a phone call in to complain about harassment or intimidation, that information may or may not ever become known, so this is really a pro-transparency measure.

The amendment says: ``together with a description of actions taken in response to such instances of voter intimidation or suppression.''

The State legislatures may not know, we may not know how many efforts are being made. We should know that to see whether what we have done here is sufficient, whether the Voting Rights Act that will be following along this bill later in the spring needs to address this.

Madam Chair, this is an excellent amendment.

Mr. RODNEY DAVIS of Illinois. Madam Chair, I believe the EAC, Election Assistance Commission, is supposed to track this information.

The key point, too, that I made earlier is that there is no verification, and that is a problem with this amendment. It is a problem with the bill. There are no protections for bad behavior.

This is why we tried to get rid of ballot harvesting. It was why the amendment was offered in committee. I mean, we have already seen what bad actors can do.

It cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in North Carolina, and they have to run a new special election, but that is okay because that may not have been a crime in California. But that is all right. The Democrats didn't want to accept that because they might like the process somewhere else.

I think what is wrong is wrong and we ought to be able to have protections. I am not convinced that the American people have the protections that they need and that they deserve to stop what happened in North Carolina from happening somewhere else.

This is another example of overreach, another example of something already happening, already existing agencies that should be compiling this information; and there are no safeguards and there will be no verification of allegations, and that is unfortunate.


Ms. LOFGREN. Madam Chair, I move that the Committee do now rise.

The motion was agreed to.

Accordingly, the Committee rose; and the Speaker pro tempore (Mr. Butterfield) having assumed the chair, Ms. Haaland, Acting Chair of the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union, reported that that Committee, having had under consideration the bill (H.R. 1) to expand Americans' access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, and strengthen ethics rules for public servants, and for other purposes, had come to no resolution thereon.