As prepared for delivery during today’s debate and consideration of the rule for H.R. 1:
Mr. Speaker, we had quite the debate on this bill in the Rules Committee last night, and I expect that the debate on the floor today will be along the same lines. Today’s bill is H.R. 1, which my friends on the other side of the aisle are calling by the misnomer “For the People Act.” Unfortunately, this bill is completely misnamed. It is not for the people, it is instead for the Democratic majority, by the Democratic majority, in the hopes of maintaining the Democratic majority for many years to come. And every provision in this bill reflects that goal.
That began with the process the majority used to put this bill together. H.R. 1 was referred to 10 different committees, yet only one – House Administration – held a markup. Later we will be hearing from some of the Republican ranking members of these other committees, each of whom will talk about provisions they had hoped to address had their respective committees marked up this bill. This failure to allow other committees with jurisdiction to mark up the bill reinforces the desire of the majority to push this bill through as quickly as possible without any additional consideration. Without further hearings and markups, it is all too easy for the majority to sweep the bill’s flaws under the rug and pass it quickly without allowing the American people to see what they are doing.
This bill would be more aptly named the “For the Politicians Act” or the “Welfare for Politicians Act.” It reinforces the idea that the majority cares only about passing a bill that will lead to more Democrats in the House of Representatives. We do not have time today to go over every provision in this bill. But for now, I’ll take a moment to point out some of the bigger provisions.
First, H.R. 1 takes taxpayer dollars and uses them to create a special piggy bank for campaigns. That’s right: Democrats want to use the taxpayer dollars of the American people to finance their political campaigns. H.R. 1 creates a matching program for small-dollar campaign contributions, thereby shifting taxpayer dollars to politicians to run their campaigns. In essence, Democrats are demanding that your tax dollars be used to subsidize and fund political candidates. According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, since 2000 total spending on federal elections has exploded, going from $2.7 billion that cycle to $6.4 billion in 2016. With so much money being raised from private sources, one wonders why the majority wants to waste taxpayer dollars adding even more money into campaigns.
Second, H.R. 1 completely takes over elections, removing authority from states and local election boards and giving it to Washington, D.C. Currently, states have the authority to determine how they want to structure their elections, including voter registration, timing and even redistricting. But all that goes away under H.R. 1.
States would no longer be able to set voter registration requirements, nor hold elections where and how they want, nor reapportion voters into appropriate districts. Instead, under H.R. 1, Washington D.C. takes over all these functions. I doubt any Secretary of State or Supervisor of Elections in America supports this federalization of the election process. In fact, last night at the Rules hearing I entered into the record a letter from the Oklahoma State Election Board opposing H.R. 1 on precisely those grounds.
I would also point out that, in the case of redistricting, if the state can’t reach a resolution, H.R. 1 hands over the redistricting function to an unelected federal court here in Washington, D.C. Everywhere you look, this bill represents an erosion of traditional state authority and a power grab for Democrats here in Washington.
Perhaps even more egregiously, the bill places limits on freedom of speech, criminalizing actions that we would currently describe as mere advocacy for candidates. Not since the Sedition Act of 1798 has the federal government tried to pass something that tramples so heavily on freedom of speech as H.R. 1. The bill is so bad in this regard that even the American Civil Liberties Union is opposing it, which is a perfect illustration of just how bad H.R. 1 really is.
Mr. Speaker, I could go on and on. Everywhere you look, H.R. 1 fails to do what the majority has promised. They have promised it is about returning power to the people, but instead this bill only gives power and money to Democratic politicians. It takes away authority from states and gives it to the federal government, wastes taxpayer dollars on political campaigns, weakens the voting system and limits freedom of speech.
In summary, Mr. Speaker, I cannot imagine how any member can stand up with a straight face and support this bill. With that, I urge opposition to the rule, and I reserve the balance of my time.
Video is available here.