Many people may have missed it in the nonstop chaos that has come to characterize the Trump era, but almost exactly one year ago, the House of Representatives passed the most sweeping and substantial set of democratic reforms passed in either chamber of Congress in decades. H.R. 1 “For The People” Act is a monumental piece of legislation that tackles some of the most pressing challenges facing our democracy. These include money in politics, voter suppression, gerrymandering and the revolving door between big business and government, to name just a few.
On March 8th, 2019, the For The People Act passed the House with every single Democrat voting in support. Meanwhile, all 47 members of the Senate Democratic caucus currently cosponsor its companion bill (S.949). Not surprisingly, however, the bill now sits in Mitch McConnell’s self-described “legislative graveyard,” along with hundreds of other bills, where it will undoubtedly remain until and unless the Democrats flip control of the upper chamber in the November election.
To build support for democracy reform and to fix our broken political system, the Declaration For American Democracy (DFAD), a coalition of 145 organizations committed to getting the For The People Act signed into law, is engaged in a multiyear effort to build a national movement with the momentum necessary to make H.R. 1 the law of the land.
With the one-year anniversary of the bill’s passage in the House, the coalition is focusing on engaging activists across the country in thanking members of Congress for their support and putting pressure on those that have yet to sign on. Perhaps most importantly, we’ll be mobilizing and setting the stage for the next steps of the campaign, with expanded efforts in key states and preparing for the possibility of a Democratic-controlled House, Senate and White House as soon as 2021.
Despite what cynics might think, the For The People Act is not a partisan bill, or at least it shouldn’t be. Many of the reforms contained in H.R. 1 are widely supported by people from across the political spectrum. Nonetheless, not a single Republican has signed on as a cosponsor of H.R. 1, although several Republican members have signed on to various pieces of the component legislation. Nonetheless, up until now, this historic bill has been held up by unmitigated Republican obstructionism.
Holistic democracy reform, as embodied by the For The People Act, is the key to making progress on any number of other issues, whether it be tackling gun control, climate change, or student loan debt. On a wide array of issues, there is broad public support for reforms to address these and other issues, but corruption of the political system has made it nearly impossible to effectively confront many of the most pressing issues of our time. When it comes to the will of special interests versus the will of the people, because of political corruption, the special interests often win. In order to solve the many complex problems that exist in this country and in the world, we must fix our democracy first.