House Passes the For the People Act; Brennan Center Reacts

Michael Waldman calls it “the most significant democracy reform legislation in at least half a century … the next great civil rights bill”

Tonight the House of Representatives passed the For the People Act (H.R. 1), which includes reforms to voting, redistricting, campaign finance, and government ethics. The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law helped develop many of the bill’s policies – including automatic voter registration, the restoration of voting rights to people with past criminal convictions, redistricting reform, and small-donor public financing.

Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice, had this reaction:

“Tonight the House of Representatives passed the most significant democracy reform legislation in at least half a century. It is the next great civil rights bill.

“We all know that across the country, Republican legislatures are racing to enact restrictions on voting rights, the biggest wave of such restrictions since the Jim Crow era. With the For the People Act, Congress can supersede that wave of voter suppression. The Senate must now play its part, and quickly, to make the For the People Act into law.

“The spate of state bills meant to shrink the electorate comes after an election where we saw the highest turnout from American voters since 1900. The 2020 election broke these records despite the pandemic and despite Donald Trump’s campaign of voter suppression aimed at Black and brown Americans and built on racist lies about voter fraud.

“This was a civic achievement that involved Republicans and Democrats, civil rights groups and business, and election officials of both parties all across the country. The For the People Act would ensure that the nation can hold onto the progress we made in enabling more voters to cast their ballots safely.

“Voting legislation in the states is only one front the battle for fair representation in our democracy. The For the People Act would also bring an end to partisan gerrymandering. And at a time of continued public anger and disgust over the role of extreme wealth in politics, the For the People Act would enact small-donor public financing, the most significant response to Citizens United and the other damaging Supreme Court rulings on campaign finance.

“The For the People Act would ensure that the freedom to be heard in government – whether as a constituent, a voter, or a candidate – is the same for everyone, regardless of race or wealth.

“The Brennan Center for Justice is grateful for the efforts of the sponsors of the For the People Act, particularly Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. John Sarbanes, and Chairperson Zoe Lofgren, and for the support of the Biden/Harris administration. We look forward to continuing our work with the administration and the Senate to turn the for The People Act into law.”

This statement is available here.

Contact: Alexandra Ringe, ringea@brennan.law.nyu.edu, 917-207-2290

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