WASHINGTON – Today, Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley and Senate Rules Committee Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) held the first Senate hearing on the For The People Act, legislation that would strengthen democracy, make it easier to vote, and end the influence of dark money in U.S. politics.
“The Constitution promises us government of, by, and for the people. But right now that promise is threatened,” Merkley, who is leading the For the People Act in the Senate, said. “‘For the People’ means corporations and special interests can’t buy the election outcomes they want. It means we don’t have to wait in hours-long lines to vote, or get blocked from casting a ballot, or thrown off the voting rolls because the government doesn’t like our pattern of voting. Americans were promised a government that works for the People—not for the rich, not for the powerful, not for one political party or the other—and this bill is how we keep that promise.”
“At its core, the For the People Act is about three simple ideas: making voting easier, getting big money out of politics, and strengthening ethics rules,” Chairwoman Klobuchar said. “These are not radical proposals. These are ideas that nearly everyone in this country agrees with and with this bill, we can make them a reality and ensure that Americans have a democracy that works for them.”
“The right to vote is a hallmark of this democracy,” said Majority Leader Schumer. “But voter suppression laws in Republican state legislatures across the country are one of the greatest threats to our country. That’s why Senate Democrats are making S.1., the For The People Act, a top priority in this Congress. This bill would combat these voter suppression efforts, make it easier to vote, limit dark money and corruption in our politics, and much more. Voting rights are sacrosanct and if Congress has to pass a law or amend the Constitution to protect the voting rights of our citizens, that’s what we should do. That’s what we must do. That’s what our democracy requires we do.”
The For the People Act would enact pro-democracy reforms to make it easier to vote, end the dominance of big money in politics, and ensure that public officials work for the public interest. Important reforms in the bill include guaranteeing every American citizen full access to the ballot by combating voter intimidation and suppression; ending the corrupting power of dark money in our elections; and putting an end to partisan gerrymandering. The For the People Act would also expand access to our democracy by ensuring all Americans have access to early voting and voting by mail.
Merkley has long championed reforms to unrig American democracy. That work has included his extensive work to restore Senate functionality and ensure that the legislative chamber is responsive to the interests of the American people, and his “Blueprint For Our ‘We The People’ Democracy” report, which detailed the importance of ending dark money in politics, tackling gerrymandering, protecting and expanding Americans’ right to vote, and ensuring equal representation in our government. Each of those components is included in today’s legislation.
Video of the hearing is available: HERE.