On March 3, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the misleadingly-named For the People Act of 2021 (H.R. 1-Sarbanes). The bill was passed by a margin of 220-210; no House Republicans voted in favor of it. At a March 17, 2021 press conference, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) stated his commitment to passing the bill in the Senate, declaring that “‘failure is not an option’” and adding that Senate Democrats would consider eliminating the cloture rule (which requires 60 votes to advance legislation to the Senate floor) to do so.
What is the For the People Act? What makes it such a high priority for Sen. Schumer?
Supporters of the For the People Act portray the bill as a reform measure that would clean up American elections and protect voting rights. This portrayal is inaccurate; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has referred to the bill as “‘a solution in search of [a] problem.’” If passed, the For the People Act would:
- Require many nonprofit groups to publicly disclose the identities of their donors, potentially chilling free speech and exposing donors to harassment and “cancel culture”-type practices;
- Override state-level voter identification laws;
- Relax absentee ballot security measures;
- Require states to allow early voting, absentee voting for any reason, and same-day voter registration;
- Empower the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to engage in the same type of partisan activity that it became known for during the Obama administration;
- Require states to allow ex-convicts to vote; and
- Waste money by creating a taxpayer-funded system for congressional elections.
To put it simply, the For the People Act is a partisan power grab that would force all 50 states to implement left-wing election policies. It would be more accurate to name the bill the “For the Democrats Act.”