In light of recent election issues in states like Florida and Georgia, where recounts are being hotly contested, House Democrats say that their first bill will directly address those issues, per NPR. Although they’ve only won the House, their hopes are still high.
First on the agenda is automatic voter registration. This is an issue we’ve seen a lot of in the most recent election cycle. Voter suppression was rampant across several states. Georgia gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp essentially rigged his own election by removing hundreds of thousands of names from voter registration lists. That race in particular could go to a runoff or recount, thanks to Kemp’s interference in the election. With the passage of this bill, it would be more difficult for government officials to abuse their power in the name of political advancement. Similarly, they hope to transfer redistricting power from state legislators to independent commissions in order to quell gerrymandering.
Democrats want to take a closer look at money, too. A recent Supreme Court ruling in the case of Citizens United brought political spending under the umbrella of free speech; Democrats hope to change that. In modern politics, money rules—any corporation with vested interest in government policies can sign a check and expect their wildest hopes and dreams to come true. Some even finance campaigns for politicians who promise to work in their favor (looking at you, NRA). The Democrats’ bill will counteract these issues in two simple ways: more disclosure over outside funds and a matching system for small contributions.
They have plans for Trump, too. He has a direct conflict of interest with his worldwide business affairs. Although he’s said that he’s been removed from business operations, he’s likely still seeing checks from The Trump Organization. He’s pointed out that, legally, he’s in the clear, as conflict of interest statutes don’t apply to the positions of President and Vice President. Democrats want to change that with this new bill, as well as require the publication of presidential candidates’ tax refunds.
Representative John Sarbanes, who’s championing the bill, said that his party wants to reestablish trust between the people and the government. Obviously, it won’t be easy to persuade Republicans, especially the President, to sign a bill that attacks their strategies head-on. Sarbanes is realistic about that. He says, “Give us the gavel in the Senate in 2020 and we’ll pass it in the Senate. Give us a pen in the Oval Office and we’ll sign those kinds of reforms into law.”