Nearly every freshman House Democrat sent a letter on Wednesday to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) calling on him to bring the sweeping campaign finance and election reform bill passed by the House to the Senate floor for a vote.
The For The People Act (H.R. 1) would create a system of publicly financed House elections, expand voting rights by mandating early voting and automatic voter registration, enhance election security and enact ethics reforms like requiring presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns. It passed the House on a 234-193 party-line vote on March 8. Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) has introduced a companion bill in the Senate backed by every Senate Democrat.
McConnell, a fierce opponent of campaign finance reform, has attacked the bill a “power grab” by the Democratic Party and refused to bring it to the Senate floor for a vote. As majority leader, he is under no obligation to bring any piece of legislation to the Senate floor for a vote.
The freshmen Democrats calling on McConnell to give their bill a vote in the Senate attacked McConnell as a “bought-and-paid-for” representative of the Washington elite on Wednesday at a press conference hosted by End Citizens United, a pro-campaign finance reform political action committee.
“Mitch McConnell remains in the pockets of the special interests,” Rep. Max Rose (D-N.Y.) said.
“He won’t even take a meeting with us,” Rose added. “At this point, I’m thinking the only way we can get a meeting with Mitch McConnell is if we take out our checkbooks and max out to him. That’s the only reason why he sits down with people cause he is bought-and-paid-for.”
Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kansas) said that McConnell “continues to defend a rigged system.”
New Hampshire Rep. Chris Pappas (D) added: “Mitch McConnell doesn’t know what democracy looks like.”
McConnell is even refusing to allow a vote on a piece of the For The People Act that would enhance election security by protecting election infrastructure from potential hacks or other interference, Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) said.
“He has no argument for holding up legislation to protect our democracy from foreign interference,” Malinowski said. “He is putting party over country.”
These House freshmen won election in 2018 by running on issues like campaign finance reform and expanding voting rights. Those calling on McConnell to give the For The People Act a vote in the Senate had previously sent a letter during the 2018 campaign calling on House leadership of both parties to prioritize these issues.
McConnell has promised not to bring this bill ― or practically any bill passed by House Democrats ― to the Senate floor. While Democrats want a vote on their bill, they also plan to use McConnell’s refusal in their 2020 election campaign to showcase their support for reforming Washington and the Republican Party’s opposition.