House Democrats are about to show the nation how to walk and chew gum while governing. After 8 years of Republican-controlled Congressional stalemate, Nancy Pelosi will lead a forward assault on the nation’s problems. Whether the Senate will continue to stonewall progress is up to Mitch McConnell; regardless of what he does, the country is about to see what is possible if our leaders have the will to govern for the good of the 98%.
Pelosi will begin with the introduction of H.R. 1 — the first bill of the 116th Congress. This bill will strengthen American democracy in three ways:
- Voter empowerment and access. Through measures such as automatic voter registration, same-day registration, restoring the Voting Rights Act, protecting against improper purging of voter rolls, requiring states to upgrade and secure their election systems, restoring voting rights to those with past criminal convictions, providing adequate early voting opportunities, and preventing partisan gerrymandering through independent redistricting commissions, H.R. 1 helps ensure that everyone is included and represented in our democracy, and has unimpeded opportunities to participate.
- Money in politics. A constitutional amendment is needed to overturn the chaos that Citizens United and related decisions unleashed into our campaign finance system. H.R. 1 starts that process immediately. Additionally, it further stems the tide of big money in our politics by amplifying small-dollar donations through public financing, encouraging small-dollar donations through tax incentives, eliminating “dark money” by requiring disclosure of all political spending (including online ads), cutting off cooperation between candidates and super PACs, and empowering the Federal Election Commission to truly enforce campaign finance law.
- Ethics and corruption. H.R. 1 cracks down by making sure that ethics rules apply to all government officials. This means demanding disclosure of and divestment from financial interests that pose conflicts of interest, locking the “revolving door” of lobbyists and government officials, prohibiting bribery, and demanding full disclosure of information revealing potential and actual conflicts of interest.
Congressman-elect Joe Neguse of Colorado explained details of HR 1 in this week’s Democratic Weekly radio address. Colorado has enacted some of the voting reforms contained in HR 1 with success. Listen to Joe Neguse:
This week, House Democrats also will introduce measures to end the government shutdown by funding all but the Department of Homeland Security through the end of this fiscal year and by funding DHS through early February to allow continued negotiations about border security. The funding for other departments was already approved unanimously by the Senate; however, the Senate will have to do it again since this is a new Congress. (Paul Ryan had refused to bring the Senate solution to the House floor.) Read more.
Finally, the House Committees will get to work. The Oversight and Judiciary Committees will be digging into the corruption of the Trump Administration. A new Special Committee on Climate Change convenes. Stay tuned.