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house Bill H.R. 1

For the People Act: Reducing Money in Politics, Restoring Gov't Ethics & Strengthening Voter Protections

Argument in favor

The current political system is broken, corrupt, and badly in need of reform. This ambitious bill restores the promise of government for and by the people by ending money’s influence in politics, re-enfranchising felons, strengthening voter protections, making it easier to vote, and more.

Robert 's Opinion
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last Wednesday
I urge my representatives to vote for this bill. Get money out of politics.
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01/28/2019
Yes, YeS & YES on all three divisions of this bill. Mandatory Ethics reviews could stop most of the Corruption in our Government.
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Chickie's Opinion
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last Wednesday
It’s incredibly sad that this bill is DUA on the Senate floor. Have the long fingers of corruption wrapped itself so tightly around the votes of our Senate that to do the right thing has been blinded by money signs? It seems that as with #45, ‘transparency’ has become a four letter word with our representatives!
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Argument opposed

Some of this bill’s provisions constitute overreach, and stretch the limits of what Congress is constitutionally allowed to do. This bill is also already known to be dead on arrival in the Senate, so there’s not much point to debating and passing it in the House, as it’ll die in the Senate.

ManfromNebraska's Opinion
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02/05/2019
This bill to change voter laws are mostly negative. Forcing people to be registered and protecting ineligible voters. This bill needs to be voted down. This bill opens way too many loopholes for illegal voting.
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Brian's Opinion
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02/02/2019
As it stands: no. SML McConnell suggested that a week-long paid leave for government employees is not necessary. But we have the amendment process. With some amendments this would be great for the American people. However, this is not good for incumbent elected officials, and that’s why it’s so difficult to get these bills through legislative and executive branches. Would Speaker Pelosi really want this bill passed either? It’s personally dangerous for any sitting politician. They’re out of their minds if they don’t try to bury it, and that’s why the bill for the people will have to have some serious backlash from the people if it doesn’t become law in this Congress.
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RobinR's Opinion
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02/05/2019
This bill will erode voter legitimacy to the point that anyone can vote anywhere multiple times with impunity. I can't believe anyone would even consider such a bill, its outrageous.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Administration
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedJanuary 3rd, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 1?

This bill — the For the People Act — would seek to reduce money’s influence in politics, restore ethics and integrity to government, and strengthen voting laws. The bill is divided into three divisions focused on Election Access, Campaign Finance, and Ethics. Each section is described in detail below.

DIVISION A — VOTING

Title I — Election Access

Voter Registration Modernization

  • Each state would be required to make online voter registration, correction, cancellation, and designation of party affiliation available online.

  • State election officials would be required to automatically register any eligible unregistered citizens to vote, while protecting ineligible voters who were mistakenly registered from prosecution; and state agencies and federal offices within states would be considered as contributing agencies for the purposes of registration.

  • States would be required to permit same-day registration for federal elections, including during early voting.

  • States’ authority to remove registrants from official voter rolls in federal elections on the basis of interstate voter registration cross-checks would be limited.

  • Annual state reports on voter registration statistics would be required to be provided to the Election Assistance Commission (EAC).

  • Help America Vote Act funds would be available for use in voter registration modernization reforms.

  • It would be unlawful to hinder, interfere with, or prevent an individual’s registration to vote; and the EAC would be instructed to develop best practices for states to deter and prevent voter registration interference.

Access to Voting for Individuals with Disabilities

States would be required to promote access to voter registration and voting for persons with disabilities. Grant funding would be made available for persons with disabilities, and a pilot program allowing them to vote from home would begin.

Prohibiting Voter Caging

Returned non-forwardable couldn’t be used as the basis for removing registered voters from the rolls. Individuals who aren’t election officials wouldn’t be allowed to challenge voters’ eligibility without an oath of good faith factual basis.

Prohibiting Deceptive Practices and Preventing Voter Intimidation

Providing false information about elections to hinder or discourage voting would be prohibited, and penalties for voter intimidation would be increased. The bill would also create sentencing guidelines for individuals found guilty of the deceptive practices previously described.

Democracy Restoration

Released felons’ right to vote would be restored by declaring that citizens’ rights to vote in federal elections cannot be denied due a criminal conviction, unless they’re serving a felony sentence in a correctional facility. States and the federal government would be required to notify individuals convicted of state or federal felonies, respectively, of their re-enfranchisement.

Promoting Accuracy, Integrity, and Security Through Voter-Verified Permanent Paper Ballot

States would be required use individual, durable, voter-verified paper ballots, and to count ballots by hand or using an optical character recognition device. Voters must be given opportunities to correct ballots in case of mistakes. Finally, ballots not be stored in a manner making it possible to associate a voter to their ballot.

Provisional Ballots

Provisional ballots from eligible voters at incorrect polling places would be required to be counted.

Early Voting

There must be at least 15 consecutive days of early voting for federal elections. Early voting locations would have to be located near public transportation and be open for at least four hours a day.

Voting by Mail

States would be banned from imposing restrictions on individuals’ abilities to vote by mail.

Absent Uniformed Services Voters and Overseas Voters

States would be required to send absentee ballots at least 45 days before their election. States that fail to do so would incur a civil penalty.

Poll Worker Recruitment and Training

The EAC would be charged with developing model training programs and awarding grants for training.

Enhancement of Enforcement

Individuals would be given private rights of action and ability to file administrative complaints.

Federal Election Integrity

State chief election officials would be banned from participating in federal campaigns, and they’d be banned from using official authorities to affect elections’ results.

Promoting Voter Access Through Election Administration Improvements

The bill would also make various administration improvements to make it easier to vote, including:

  • Making Election Day a federal employment holiday;

  • Requiring seven days’ notice for polling site changes; making colleges and universities voter registration agencies;

  • Requiring the U.S. Postal Service to carry absentee ballots for free;

  • Allowing states to use HAVA funds to reimburse the USPS for revenue it’d have earned from absentee ballots;

  • Requiring the EAC to reimburse states for establishing absentee ballot tracking programs; creating a voter information hotline;

  • Allowing voters to submit sworn written statements in lieu of required identification for voting; and

  • Prohibiting states from requiring voters to submit sworn statements to cast provisional ballots.

This bill would also reauthorize the EAC and require states to work with it to carry out an assessment of voting systems’ adequacy to meet the demands of the 2020 election. The EAC would submit a report on its findings to Congress with a plan to replace outdated voting systems. States and the EAC would work together to administer post-election surveys.


Title II — Election Integrity

Redistricting Reform

States would be required to adopt independent redistricting commissions for drawing Congressional districts.

Saving Voters from Voter Purging

The bill would respond to the Husted decision by clarifying that failure to vote isn't grounds for removing registered voters from the rolls.


Title III — Election Security

Financial Support for Election Infrastructure

This bill would establish standards for election vendors based on cybersecurity and company ownership. It’d also allow the EAC to issue grants to states for: 1) improving and maintaining election systems; paper ballot systems; risk-limiting audits after elections; and election infrastructure innovation.

Security Measures

The Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) would be required to maintain election infrastructure’s critical designation, and to assess threats to election systems at least 180 days before an election and inform state of threats to election systems.

Enhancing Protection for United States Democratic Institutions

The President would produce a national strategy for protecting U.S. democratic institutions and create a National Commission to Protect United States Democratic Institutions to counter threats.

Promoting Cybersecurity Through Improvements in Election Administration

Voting systems would be tested nine months before each regularly scheduled general election for federal office. Electronic poll books would be defined as part of voting systems, and pre-election reports on voting system usage would be required.

Preventing Election Hacking

Would establish an Election Security Bug Bounty Program to encourage independent assessments of election systems by technical experts.


DIVISION B — CAMPAIGN FINANCE

Title IV — Campaign Finance Transparency

Foreign Money Ban

Contributions and expenditures from corporations with significant foreign ownership or control would be banned, and the application of the foreign money ban regarding separate segregated funds would be clarified.

Dark Money Disclosure

Super PACs, 501(c)4 groups, and other organizations spending money in elections would have to disclose donors contributing over $10,000. Organizations would banned from using transfers between themselves to mask source contributors’ identities. This section would also set forth and clarify rules governing court challenges to campaign finance law.

Honest Ads

Large digital platforms would be required to maintain a public database of political ad purchase requests over $500. Direct digital platforms would be directed to implement measures to prevent foreign nationals from directly or indirectly purchasing political ads.

Stand by Every Ad

“Stand by your ad” disclosure requirements would be expanded to include leaders of corporations, unions, and other organizations purchasing political ads.

Secret Money Transparency

Would repeal the existing prohibition on the IRS promulgating rules to bring clarity to the rules governing 501(c) political activity.

Shareholder Right-to-Know

Would repeal the existing prohibition on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) finalizing rules to give shareholders the opportunity to know about publicly traded companies’ political spending.

Disclosure of Political Spending by Government Contractors

Would repeal the prohibition on the executive branch promulgating rules to require government contractors to disclose all their political spending.

Disclosure Requirements for Presidential Inaugural Committee

Presidential Inauguration Committees would be required to disclose their expenditures. Aggregate contributions would be limited, and funds couldn’t be used for non-inauguration purposes.


Title V — Campaign Finance Empowerment

Findings Related to Citizens United Decision

Expresses that Congress finds that the Citizens United decision is detrimental to America’s democracy and that the Constitution should be amended to clarify Congress’ and the states’ authority to regulate campaign contributions and expenditures.

Congressional Elections

Would create small dollar incentives to expand the universe of low-dollar contributors and establish a publicly financed 6-1 matching system on small-dollar donations up to $200 for House candidates who demonstrate broad-based support and reject high-dollar contributions.

Presidential Elections

Would establish a publicly financed 6-1 matching system on the first $200 of a contribution to the presidential campaign of a participating candidate.

Personal Use Services as Authorized Campaign Expenditures

Authorized campaign expenditures would be expanded to include child care, elder service care, rent or mortgage payments, professional development and media training, and health insurance payments in order to make it easier for candidates of modest means to run for and win office.


Title VI — Campaign Finance Oversight

Restoring Integrity to America’s Elections

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) would be restructured with five commissioners in order to break gridlock, and its civil penalty authority would be made permanent.

Stopping Super PAC-Candidate Coordination

“Prohibited coordination” between campaigns and super PACs would be defined. A “coordinated spender” category would be created to ensure single-candidate PACs don’t operate as arms of campaigns.


DIVISION C — ETHICS

Title VII — Ethics Standards

Supreme Court Ethics

Would require the development of a code of ethics for Supreme Court justices.

Foreign Agents Registration

Would increase resources for the FARA office, create a FARA investigation and enforcement unit in the Dept. of Justice (DOJ), and give the FARA office the authority to impose civil penalties. It’d also require foreign agents to disclose transactions involving things of financial value conferred on officeholders.

Lobbying Disclosure Reform

Counseling in support of lobbying contacts is would be considered lobbying under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, and making it something that triggers registration.

Recusal of Presidential Appointees

Would require all presidential appointees to recuse themselves from any matter involving the president, the president’s spouse, or an entity in which the president or their spouse has a substantial interest.


Title VIII — Ethics Reforms for the President, Vice President and Federal Officers and Employees

Executive Branch Conflict of Interest

This part of the bill would prohibit: 1) incentive payments from corporations to individuals entering government service; 2) federal procurement officers from accepting compensation from a contractor to which the officer awarded a contract for two years after leaving government service; and 3) senior federal officials from inappropriately using their position after leaving government service by restricting them from attempting to influence employees in their former agency for two years after the end of their official service.

Presidential Conflicts of Interest

This would state the Sense of Congress that the president and vice president should conduct themselves as if they were bound by the federal conflict of interest law. It’d require the president and vice president to file new financial disclosure reports within 30 days of taking office, and treat the president and vice president the same as members of Congress by prohibiting them from contracting with the U.S. government.

White House Ethics Transparency

Executive branch waivers would be disclosed to the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) and the public.

Executive Branch Ethics Enforcement

Would reauthorize the OGE and enhance its enforcement mechanisms.

Conflicts from Political Fundraising

Would require individuals nominated or appointed to Senate-confirmed positions and certain other senior government officials to disclose contributions by, solicited by, or made on behalf of an individual. It’d also require disclosure of certain types of gifts to these individuals or their families. The OGE would issue rules or address conflicts of interest identified in disclosures.

Transition Team Ethics

Presidents-elect would be required to develop ethics plans that apply to members of the transition.

Ethics Pledge for Senior Executive Branch Employees

Would codify the Obama-era Executive Branch ethics pledge.


Title IX — Congressional Ethics Reform

Requiring Members of Congress to Reimburse Treasury for Amounts Paid as Settlements and Awards Under Congressional Accountability Act

Members of Congress would be prohibited from using taxpayer funds to settle employment discrimination cases against them.

Conflicts of Interest

Members of Congress would be prohibited from serving on for-profit entities’ boards. Rules prohibiting Members and their staff from using their positions to further their own or their immediate family members’ financial interests would be codified.

Campaign FInance and Lobbying Disclosure

FEC reports and Lobbying Disclosure Act reports would be required to be linked online.

Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports

All Congressionally mandated reports from federal agencies would be required to be published online in a searchable and downloadable database.


Title X — Presidential Tax Transparency

Presidential Conflicts of Interest

All sitting presidents and vice presidents, as well as candidates for president and vice president, would be required to release their tax returns going back 10 years.

Impact

Voters; elections; felons; political donors; small-dollar donors; campaigns; campaign finance; FEC; SEC; Treasury; Congressional staff; Congress; vice president; and the president.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthRep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) introduced this bill to uphold House Democrats’ campaign promises to voters during the 2018 midterm elections. In comments upon this bill’s introduction, Rep. Sarbanes said:

“We (Democrats) carried a message of reform, of fighting corruption, of cleaning up Washington. We made a promise to the American people. The new members who’ve come made that promise and made it clear they wanted this to be the first order of business. [This bill] is delivering on that promise.”

Government watchdog group Common Cause supports this bill. Its president, Karen Hobert Flynn, says:

“The For the People Act represents a down payment to the American people in answer to their full-throated demands for change. It contains many bold reforms, such as small-donor matching fund systems and independent redistricting commissions, that have passed with strong bipartisan support at the state and local level, to help empower the voices of everyday Americans.”

Hobert Flynn adds that the House should pass this bill quickly, and then forward it to the Senate to shine a spotlight on the Senate’s response, or lack thereof:

“We urge the House to pass the bill expeditiously and to forward the bill to the Senate in order to shine a spotlight on the Senate’s response – or silence in the face of public demand. Under Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, that response has been to declare any proposed democracy reform DOA. That stance must change, or the Senate may find itself with a number of new faces in 2021.”

This bill is expected to face stiff opposition in the Republican-controlled Senate, as well as from President Trump. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has already announced his opposition to this bill.

Rep. Sarbanes has embraced Sen. McConnell’s opposition to this bill, as he says, “You could stamp on this thing ‘McConnell-rejected,’ and it would immediately give it more credibility… This was built for the public.

On some issues, such as redistricting, NPR’s Peter Overby reports that some of this bill’s provisions “push the envelope” and reach into state law:

“To settle the controversy over redistricting, the bill would simply take away the power of state legislatures to draw congressional districts and have independent commissions do it instead. That way, presumably, the local politicians could no longer gerrymander the districts to help their party and cripple the opposition.”

This bill has the support of the House Democratic caucus, as well as Public Citizen, the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the Alliance for Justice, the Center for American Progress (CAP), Common Cause, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, U.S. PIRG, and the Project on Government Oversight (POGO).


A companion bill will be introduced soon in the Senate.


Of NoteThis bill’s title, H.R. 1, is a symbolic title meant to emphasize its importance, even if it won’t be the first piece of legislation to get a House vote in the new Congress. Although this bill stands little chance of getting anywhere beyond the House, Rolling Stone’s Andy Kroll points out that it’s important in several other ways:

“[This bill] announces that the health of our democracy is first and foremost on the minds of Speaker Pelosi and her new majority. And it puts down, in one place, a laundry list of ideas and possible reforms that can be individually enacted or adopted at the state level, giving Democrats a starting point for tackling issues — gerrymandering, voting rights and more — that voters increasingly see as vital to the future of this country… [F]aced with the most ethically challenged president since Richard Nixon, Pelosi and the Democrats have signaled that rolling back decades of anti-democratic policies and resuscitating our ailing electoral system is at the top of their to-do list.”


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Moussa81)

AKA

For the People Act of 2019

Official Title

To expand Americans' access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, and strengthen ethics rules for public servants, and for other purposes.

    I urge my representatives to vote for this bill. Get money out of politics.
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    It’s incredibly sad that this bill is DUA on the Senate floor. Have the long fingers of corruption wrapped itself so tightly around the votes of our Senate that to do the right thing has been blinded by money signs? It seems that as with #45, ‘transparency’ has become a four letter word with our representatives!
    Like (11)
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    Yes, YeS & YES on all three divisions of this bill. Mandatory Ethics reviews could stop most of the Corruption in our Government.
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    Vote yes on HR 1. For the people.
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    It's about time. It either get's done now or "We The People" can and will take OUR GOVERNMENT BACK FROM YOU ENTITLED ASSES! AS OUR FOUNDING FATHERS GAVE US THE RIGHT TO DO
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    This is exactly the sort of strengthening of voting rights that the Democratic House should be fighting for and fighting hard. I am incredibly happy to see this important package of laws introduced as HR1 in this session.
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    WHERE IS THE MEDIA BUZZ WHEN YOU NEED IT?🐝😤
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    Anything that gets money out of politics is fine by me.
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    I’ve seen way too much corruption and nonsense in government, and it keeps getting worse. This bill is long overdue and deserves a chance to be voted on in both chambers of Congress. Please don’t let this die before, or in the Senate.
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    This bill to change voter laws are mostly negative. Forcing people to be registered and protecting ineligible voters. This bill needs to be voted down. This bill opens way too many loopholes for illegal voting.
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    I have Reviewed all 10 Titles to this Bill, and I am strong Supporter of this Bill. I will vote in future elections based alone in who doesn’t support and vote this bill into affect. The only opposition in that I see has been brought up for this Bill is that some feel it’s restricting State Legators power to Gerrymander elections, if so Good; Gerrymandering is an unfair practice to the American people. States will have the power though still to create these Independent Committees so they will have a say, but this will move Redistricting out of the Hands of political strategy to political equality
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    I have been supporting organizations who are working hard to restore public funding to election campaigns and reverse the Citizens United decision that was passed by the conservative SCOTUS members. I also am a member of the "Stamp Stampede", and stamp dollar and five dollar bills with statements such as "NOT TO BE USED TO BUY ELECTIONS", and "CORPORATIONS ARE NOT PEOPLE". There is an identification number that is on my stamps, and when my bills are identified, I get notifications and vice versa. Dark money has destroyed fair elections, period.
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    As it stands: no. SML McConnell suggested that a week-long paid leave for government employees is not necessary. But we have the amendment process. With some amendments this would be great for the American people. However, this is not good for incumbent elected officials, and that’s why it’s so difficult to get these bills through legislative and executive branches. Would Speaker Pelosi really want this bill passed either? It’s personally dangerous for any sitting politician. They’re out of their minds if they don’t try to bury it, and that’s why the bill for the people will have to have some serious backlash from the people if it doesn’t become law in this Congress.
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    It’s a shame that we have to pass voter protection laws but we have an obligation to our democracy, to each other, and this great experiment to ensure that the principles of the Declaration of Independence are protected from the political machinations of those whose goal is political power at any cost. “We hold these truths to be self evident that all men (mankind) are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It Does NOT Say: 1. All men are created equal as long as their like me. 2. Everyone one has the right to their opinion as long as it agrees with mine. 3. Everyone has the right to pursue there own happiness as long as I’m not offended by it. 4. You can do anything you want as long as Nothing you do has Any impact on me what so ever including how I feel about it. "To whom much is given, from him much is expected" is the least this sentence needs to stand on its own. I’m not a Christian but for those on the right the Christian Bible does it better, "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required," Luke 12:48 in the King James Version. This is an OBLIGATION we all share. It past time we codify the protections into law. And I would go one step further and say codify it into the constitution.
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    This is one of the most important pieces of legislation to go before Congress in years. It is critically important that our election systems are reformed to better give the people a voice and remove dangerous corporate cash from our democracy. Please, I urge you, push for this bill with all of your might. This needs to pass. This must become law. The future of democracy is at stake and this bill is hanging in the balance. Vote yes!
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    I approve of the For the People Act. It’s far past time we addressed the injustice brought upon us by the Citizens United case.
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    Why isn’t HR 1being voted on? There is serious need for this to pass. If need be break it up but we need to both shore up voting rights and get big money and corporate monies out of elections.
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    Just because the Senate won't pass something is no reason to give up. If we roll over everytime we think something won't pass one house or the other, we risk our voices not being heard.
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    Absolutely to all three! We, especially, need the big money gone before the 2020 election. Just think of how many fewer campaign ads we’d see. That alone, should be an incentive! I WANT the American people to vote on these issues, NOT our legislators. Our corrupt Senators will not vote to pass this, so it needs to go to a vote BY THE PEOPLE. Not by our obstructionist, greedy Repugnants. Nothing good ever gets done when we leave it up to them! And Schumer, you need to challenge the orange pig on Federal regulators, judges, etc. You cannot allow the pig to deny the appointment of Democrats to the Wall Street watchdog posts. Just like you should NEVER have allowed McConnell to block Obama’s Supreme Court Justice nomination to be denied. And stop letting them railroad in justices who think date rape is a woman’s fault (this from a Repugnant woman judge, no less). Why did you agree to confirm large batches of judges from the Repugnants by unanimous consent? What were you thinking? Make them have to justify the hateful Justices they propose!Stop this bull now. You allow them to walk all over us citizens! We thought you were on our side. Now, I wonder if you really are. If we have to impeach them all to save the country we once knew, do it. And STOP allowing the demise of our National Parks and government lands to oil and mining exploration. How could you possibly have voted to allow the witch, Murkowski, to pass a bill that does this? I am sick and tired of a good many of you! Most of you need to go! 2020 can’t happen soon enough.
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    Why wouldn’t every elected official want their record to show they want to remove money from politics, protect voter rights, and improve access to vote for citizens? We’re watching you. And well remember whether you support your lobbies or the constitution.
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