People For the American Way

For the People Act Introduced in the Senate

News and Analysis

On March 27, People For the American Way joined a coalition of activists who “packed the room”for a press conference supporting the For the People Act, a bill now sponsored by every single Democrat member of Congress. It is a response to the demands of the voters during the midterms, where many constituents expressed outrage and cynicism towards the levels of corruption in Washington. House Democrats in the 116th Congress addressed many of these concerns with their version of the For the People Act, H.R. 1, which passed on March 1. Now, a companion bill in the Senate, S. 949, has been introduced. If it passes, it will be one of the biggest democratic reform efforts in history, addressing government corruption, voter suppression, and the ongoing influence of big money in politics.

The press conference to support the introduction of the For the People Act in the Senate started with speeches from several senators, beginning with the chief sponsor Tom Udall, D-N.M, who said explained some of the specifics of the bill and what it would mean for the American people if it passed. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., then spoke and stressed that levels of corruption in Congress are higher than ever and that this bill is needed to restore the American people’s faith in our democracy. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., then gave a speech about how Republicans have wrongly painted this bill as a “power grab,” but the reality is that it is precisely what the American people have been asking for in that it gives power back to them. He called upon Congress to work across the aisle to instill these common sense measures and help achieve fair elections in America.

Next, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., stressed that many provisions of the bill are issues that Democrats in Congress have been trying to push through for years. She stated that it was clear what the American people wanted and that she hoped her Republican colleagues would hear them out. Sen. DickDurbin, D-Ill., expressed similar sentiments, saying “[a]ll of these things are what the people are asking for. The question is if we’re listening on Capitol Hill?”

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., gave a fiery speech about how cockroaches will scuttle when the light is turned on—this bill is turning the lights on large donors and corporate special interests who are influencing our elections over the democratic will of the American people. Finally Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., stated that secret money in politics has gotten more pervasive in Congress and that without a bill like this, things will get even worse.