clearn.png
Thursday December 2nd, 2021 11:56PM

House passes sweeping voting rights bill over GOP opposition

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats passed sweeping voting and ethics legislation over unanimous Republican opposition, advancing to the Senate what would be the largest overhaul of the U.S. election law in at least a generation.

House Resolution 1, which touches on virtually every aspect of the electoral process, was approved Wednesday night on a near party-line 220-210 vote. It would restrict partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts, strike down hurdles to voting and bring transparency to a murky campaign finance system that allows wealthy donors to anonymously bankroll political causes.

The bill is a powerful counterweight to voting rights restrictions advancing in Republican-controlled statehouses across the country in the wake of Donald Trump’s repeated false claims of a stolen 2020 election. Yet it faces an uncertain fate in the Democratic-controlled Senate, where it has little chance of passing without changes to procedural rules that currently allow Republicans to block it.

The stakes in the outcome are monumental, cutting to the foundational idea that one person equals one vote, and carrying with it the potential to shape election outcomes for years to come. It also offers a test of how hard President Joe Biden and his party are willing to fight for their priorities, as well as those of their voters.

This bill “will put a stop at the voter suppression that we’re seeing debated right now,” said Rep. Nikema Williams, a new congresswoman who represents the Georgia district that deceased voting rights champion John Lewis held for years. “This bill is the ‘Good Trouble’ he fought for his entire life.”

In a statement, Biden said he looked forward to refining the measure and hoped to sign it into law, calling it “landmark legislation" that is much needed “to repair and strengthen our democracy.”

To Republicans, however, it would give license to unwanted federal interference in states' authority to conduct their own elections — ultimately benefiting Democrats through higher turnout, most notably among minorities.

“Democrats want to use their razor-thin majority not to pass bills to earn voters’ trust, but to ensure they don’t lose more seats in the next election,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said from the House floor Tuesday.

The measure has been a priority for Democrats since they won their House majority in 2018. But it has taken on added urgency in the wake of Trump’s false claims, which incited the deadly storming of the U.S. Capitol in January.

Courts and even Trump's last attorney general, William Barr, found his claims about the election to be without merit. But, spurred on by those lies, state lawmakers across the U.S. have filed more than 200 bills in 43 states that would limit ballot access, according to a tally kept by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.

In Iowa, the legislature voted to cut absentee and in-person early voting, while preventing local elections officials from setting up additional locations to make early voting easier. In Georgia, the House on Monday voted for legislation requiring identification to vote by mail that would also allow counties to cancel early in-person voting on Sundays, when many Black voters cast ballots after church.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court appeared ready to uphold voting restrictions in Arizona, which could make it harder to challenge state election laws in the future.

When asked why proponents sought to uphold the Arizona laws, which limit who can turn in absentee ballots and enable ballots to be thrown out if they are cast in the wrong precinct, a lawyer for the state's Republican Party was stunningly clear.

“Because it puts us at a competitive disadvantage relative to Democrats,” said attorney Michael Carvin. “Politics is a zero-sum game."

Battle lines are quickly being drawn by outside groups who plan to spend millions of dollars on advertising and outreach campaigns.

Republicans “are not even being coy about it. They are saying the ‘quiet parts’ out loud,” said Tiffany Muller, the president of End Citizens United, a left-leaning group that aims to curtail the influence of corporate money in politics. Her organization has launched a $10 million effort supporting the bill. “For them, this isn’t about protecting our democracy or protecting our elections. This is about pure partisan political gain.”

Conservatives, meanwhile, are mobilizing a $5 million pressure campaign, urging moderate Senate Democrats to oppose rule changes needed to pass the measure.

“H.R. 1 is not about making elections better,” said Ken Cuccinelli, a former Trump administration Homeland Security official who is leading the effort. "It’s about the opposite. It’s intended to dirty up elections.”

So what's actually in the bill?

H.R. 1 would require states to automatically register eligible voters, as well as offer same-day registration. It would limit states' ability to purge registered voters from their rolls and restore former felons' voting rights. Among dozens of other provisions, it would also require states to offer 15 days of early voting and allow no-excuse absentee balloting.

On the cusp of a once-in-a-decade redrawing of congressional district boundaries, typically a fiercely partisan affair, the bill would mandate that nonpartisan commissions handle the process instead of state legislatures.

Many Republican opponents in Congress have focused on narrower aspects, like the creation of a public financing system for congressional campaigns that would be funded through fines and settlement proceeds raised from corporate bad actors.

They've also attacked an effort to revamp the federal government's toothless elections cop. That agency, the Federal Election Commission, has been gripped by partisan deadlock for years, allowing campaign finance law violators to go mostly unchecked.

Another section that's been a focus of Republican ire would force the disclosure of donors to “dark money” political groups, which are a magnet for wealthy interests looking to influence the political process while remaining anonymous.

Still, the biggest obstacles lie ahead in the Senate, which is split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats.

On some legislation, it takes only 51 votes to pass, with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tiebreaker. On a deeply divisive bill like this one, they would need 60 votes under the Senate’s rules to overcome a Republican filibuster — a tally they are unlikely to reach.

Some Democrats have discussed options like lowering the threshold to break a filibuster, or creating a workaround that would allow priority legislation, including a separate John Lewis Voting Rights bill, to be exempt. Biden has been cool to filibuster reforms and Democratic congressional aides say the conversations are fluid but underway.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has not committed to a time frame but vowed “to figure out the best way to get big, bold action on a whole lot of fronts.”

He said: “We’re not going to be the legislative graveyard. ... People are going to be forced to vote on them, yes or no, on a whole lot of very important and serious issues.”

___

AP Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Local/State News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General House Election News, AP Elections - Campaigns
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
House passes sweeping voting rights bill over GOP opposition
House Democrats have approved sweeping voting and ethics legislation over unanimous Republican opposition, advancing to the Senate what would be the largest overhaul of the U.S. election law in at least a generation
11:07PM ( 2 minutes ago )
UN: 38 died on deadliest day yet for Myanmar coup opposition
Myanmar security forces were seen firing slingshots at protesters, chasing them down and even brutally beating an ambulance crew in video showing a dramatic escalation of violence against opponents of last month’s military coup
10:45PM ( 24 minutes ago )
Virus surge forces Sao Paulo to shut as Buenos Aires reopens
Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires, the two biggest cities in each of the neighboring South American countries, are headed in opposite directions in the COVID-19 pandemic, reflecting how those that loosen restrictions despite warnings from scientists see a spike in the pandemic while others that keep social distancing measures in place are able to reopen their economies sooner
10:31PM ( 38 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Cuomo addresses harassment claims, vows to stay in office
A somber New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is apologizing following sexual harassment allegations against him
9:24PM ( 1 hour ago )
General: Pentagon hesitated on sending Guard to Capitol riot
The Defense Department took more than three hours to dispatch the National Guard to the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol despite a frantic request for reinforcement from police
8:56PM ( 2 hours ago )
Police uncover ‘possible plot’ by militia to breach Capitol
U.S. Capitol Police say they have uncovered intelligence of a “possible plot” by a militia group to breach the Capitol on Thursday
8:33PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP National News
Germany extends lockdown but paves way to relax more rules
Germany is extending its coronavirus shutdown by three weeks until March 28, but easing some restrictions to allow nonessential stores and other businesses to reopen in areas with relatively low infection rates
6:59PM ( 4 hours ago )
Tactical shift: Europe seeks vaccine 'overdrive' to catch up
Slow off the blocks in the race to immunize its citizens against COVID-19, Germany faces an unfamiliar problem: a glut of vaccines and not enough arms to inject them into
6:42PM ( 4 hours ago )
States rapidly expanding vaccine access as supplies surge
Cities and states are rapidly expanding access to vaccines as the nation races to head off a resurgence in coronavirus infections and reopen schools and businesses battered by the pandemic
6:06PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online National News
IG faults Elaine Chao at Transportation over ethics concerns
A new report shows that the Transportation Department’s watchdog wanted Elaine Chao to be criminally investigated late last year when she was transportation secretary, but was rebuffed
9:19PM ( 1 hour ago )
Australia's leader backs attorney-general accused of rape
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has expressed support for his attorney-general, who this week denied accusations he raped a schoolgirl when he was a teenager
8:32PM ( 2 hours ago )
IG finds misuse of office by Elaine Chao at Transportation
A new report shows that the Transportation Department’s watchdog wanted Elaine Chao to be criminally investigated late last when she was transportation secretary, but was rebuffed
8:10PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Projects GOP tied to Pelosi, Schumer dropped from virus bill
Republicans opposed to a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package have pointed to two transportation projects as examples of pork that would politically benefit Democrats leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi
4:12PM ( 6 hours ago )
GOP takes aim at Biden's health care pick on abortion rights
President Joe Biden’s pick for health secretary is taking heat for his defense of abortion rights from Republicans looking to define him as out of the mainstream
2:52PM ( 8 hours ago )
Ban on transgender girls in girls' sports sought in Georgia
Advocates of a ban on transgender girls playing girls' sports are turning to the Georgia state Senate
1:56PM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Trump's cash plea could complicate GOP fundraising efforts
Former President Donald Trump called on his supporters to send their contributions directly to his own committees in his first speech since leaving office
5:50AM ( 17 hours ago )
US sanctions Russian officials over nerve-agent attack
The Biden administration has sanctioned seven mid-level and senior Russian officials over a nearly fatal nerve-agent attack on opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his subsequent jailing
8:14PM ( 1 day ago )
FBI chief warns violent 'domestic terrorism' growing in US
FBI Director Chris Wray is labeling the Jan_ 6 riot at the Capitol as “domestic terrorism.”
7:57PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Elections
The Latest: Police say 800 pro-Trump rioters invaded Capitol
The acting head of the U.S. Capitol Police says about 800 pro-Trump rioters forced their way into the halls of Congress during the Jan. 6 insurrection
12:02PM ( 6 days ago )
The Latest: Biden says all Americans must 'defend the truth'
President Joe Biden is responding to the acquittal of Donald Trump by stating that all Americans, especially the nation’s leaders, have a duty and responsibility “to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.”
11:01PM ( 2 weeks ago )
The Latest: Pelosi scoffs at 'cowardly' GOP senators
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is scoffing at the “cowardly” Senate Republicans who voted to acquit Donald Trump of inciting the Capitol siege
5:36PM ( 2 weeks ago )
General House Election News
Democratic voting bill would make biggest changes in decades
Congress is beginning debate on the biggest overhaul of U.S. elections law in a generation
8:11PM ( 2 days ago )
France's Sarkozy convicted of corruption, sentenced to jail
A Paris court has found French former President Nicolas Sarkozy guilty of corruption and influence peddling and sentenced him to a year in prison
11:11AM ( 2 days ago )
France's Sarkozy faces jail sentence, denies corruption pact
The verdict is expected on Monday in a landmark corruption and influence-peddling trial that has put French former President Nicolas Sarkozy in the spotlight
3:59AM ( 2 days ago )
AP Elections - Campaigns
UN: 38 died on deadliest day yet for Myanmar coup opposition
Myanmar security forces were seen firing slingshots at protesters, chasing them down and even brutally beating an ambulance crew in video showing a dramatic escalation of violence against opponents of last month’s military coup
10:45PM ( 25 minutes ago )
Virus surge forces Sao Paulo to shut as Buenos Aires reopens
Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires, the two biggest cities in each of the neighboring South American countries, are headed in opposite directions in the COVID-19 pandemic, reflecting how those that loosen restrictions despite warnings from scientists see a spike in the pandemic while others that keep social distancing measures in place are able to reopen their economies sooner
10:31PM ( 38 minutes ago )
James Harden has triple-double in Houston return, Nets roll
James Harden had a triple-double with 29 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists in the first meeting with his former Houston teammates and the Brooklyn Nets won 132-114 on Wednesday night to hand the Rockets their 13th straight loss
10:14PM ( 55 minutes ago )
House panel seeks storm documents from Texas grid operator
The House Oversight Committee is investigating the agency that operates the Texas power grid, seeking information and documents about the lack of preparation for the recent winter storm that caused millions of power outages and dozens of deaths across the state
10:14PM ( 56 minutes ago )
Embiid, Harris lead 76ers to OT victory over Jazz
Joel Embiid had 40 points and 19 rebounds and hit a tying 3-pointer late in regulation, and Tobias Harris scored 11 of his 22 points in overtime to lead the Philadelphia 76ers past the Utah Jazz 131-123
10:02PM ( 1 hour ago )