Any Way You Slice It, ‘It Still Retains S.1’s Rotten Core’

LEADER McCONNELL: ‘Whichever Label Democrats Slap On Their Bill, The Substance Remains The Same. It’s Always Been A Plan To Rewrite The Ground Rules Of American Politics … Today, The Senate’s Going To Fulfill Our Founding Purpose, Stop This Partisan Power Grab, And Reject S.1’


SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “Later today, the Senate will vote on whether to advance Democrats’ transparently partisan plan to tilt every election in America permanently in their favor. By now, the rotten inner workings of this power grab have been thoroughly exposed to the light. We know that it would shatter a decades-old understanding that campaign law should have a bipartisan referee, and turn the Federal Election Commission into a partisan-majority cudgel for Democrats to wield against their political opponents. We know that it would let Washington bureaucrats direct federal dollars into politicians’ campaign accounts – government money for yard signs and attack ads. We know that it would let Democrats take a red pen to election laws in each of the 50 states, neutering popular precautions like voter I.D. while legalizing shady practices like ballot harvesting across the board. It’s a recipe for undermining confidence in our elections. For remaking our entire system of government to suit the preferences of one far end of the political spectrum. And if they could, many Senate Democrats would pass it with the slimmest possible majority, even after its companion faced bipartisan opposition in the House. What a craven political calculation. What a way to show your disdain for the American people’s choices. Of course, it isn’t even limited to election law. Among of the most dangerous parts of S. 1 is the way it would equip partisan regulators to intimidate and discourage private citizens from engaging in political speech.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 6/22/2021)

  • LEADER McCONNELL: “These same rotten proposals have sometimes been called a massive overhaul for a broken democracy… Sometimes a modest package of tweaks for a democracy that’s working perfectly… And sometimes a response to state actions which this bill predates by years. But whichever label Democrats slap on their bill, the substance remains the same. It’s always been a plan to rewrite the ground rules of American politics. And by the way, no matter what far-left activists are telling our colleagues, this most sensitive subject would not be the best place to trash the Senate’s rules to ram something through. In fact, these issues would be the worst possible place to push through a power grab at any cost. The Senate is no obstacle to voting laws done the right way. I’ve helped write legislation regarding our democracy that has soared through this chamber on huge bipartisan margins. The Senate is only an obstacle when the policy is flawed and the process is rotten. And that’s exactly why this body exists. Today, the Senate’s going to fulfill our founding purpose, stop this partisan power grab, and reject S. 1.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 6/22/2021)

“Republicans … have exhibited little discomfort in their blanket opposition to the Democratic voting bill — which was largely written before the 2020 election and goes well beyond election access standards to federally dictate new rules on campaign financing, government ethics, congressional redistricting and much more. The party’s leaders expressed confidence ahead of Tuesday’s evening’s vote that none of their 50 members would join Democrats to clear a path to start debate.” (“Senate Poised To Block Debate On Elections Bill, Dealing Blow To Democrats’ Voting Rights Push,” The Washington Post, 6/22/2021)


Some Democrats Have Floated Breaking Up Their Massive, Partisan Federal Takeover Of Elections Into Multiple Bills …

LEADER McCONNELL: “Senate Democrats seem to have reached a so-called ‘compromise’ election takeover among themselves. In reality … [i]t still subverts the First Amendment to supercharge cancel culture and the left’s name-and-shame campaign model. It takes redistricting away from state legislatures … And it still retains S.1’s rotten core: an assault on the fundamental idea that states, not the federal government, should decide how to run their own elections.” (Sen. McConnell, Press Release, 6/17/2021)

“With Senate Democrats facing a solid GOP filibuster over their major election reform proposal … party leaders are scrambling to come up with a backup plan. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) has suggested breaking the legislation up into smaller pieces, forcing votes on those provisions as standalone legislation, such as the ‘dark money’ ban. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) acknowledged Monday that such an approach is a possibility, but he said Democrats still haven’t made a firm decision on their next move. The Senate will vote Tuesday on a motion to proceed to the S.1, the For The People Act, but they’re expected to fall far short of getting the 60 votes needed to overcome the Republican filibuster. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) railed at Republicans on the floor Monday, yet there seems to be no chance of this legislation moving forward as is right now. ‘That’s a possibility,’ Durbin said of breaking the massive bill into smaller pieces. ‘We’ll have to decide as a caucus.’” (Punchbowl News PM, 6/21/2021)


… But All The Core Pieces Of S.1 Are The Worst Provisions That Democrats Already Refused To Change

Democrats Repeatedly Refused To Remove Or Modify Provisions That Would Funnel Public Money To Their Own Political Campaigns

SEN. ROY BLUNT (R-MO), Senate Rules & Administration Committee Ranking Member: “This amendment strikes a provision that creates public financing for campaigns for the U.S. Senate. Specifically, the program creates a 6 to 1 government match to any small donor contributions of $200 or less in a congressional campaign. Meaning for every $200, the federal government will match $1,200. Supporters of this go out of their way to argue that the funds that will be spent aren’t taxpayer dollars, they’re funds that have come from assessments placed on top of fines and penalties paid by corporations and tax cheats…. I understand why you’d want to say that [but] it’s clear that all funds that flow through the U.S. Treasury are public funds, they belong to the American people. These would be funds that belong to the American people going to politicians. Under … this portion of the bill, every Senator that sat on this committee would be eligible for up to $80 million for their Senate campaigns. Every incumbent Senator would over six years be able to collect a total of $1.8 billion. That’s not to mention their opponents who also would be eligible for these funds. I think this is one of the things that the American people would be most opposed to in this bill…. I think there’s a better way to use this money and virtually everybody that I work for in the state of Missouri would think there’s a better way to use this money. This serves only to put money in the pockets of political campaigns. I think it’s a big mistake. I’d urge my colleagues to join me in striking this provision of the bill.” (Sen. Blunt, U.S. Senate Rules & Administration Committee Business Meeting, 5/11/2021)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX):I strongly support Senator Blunt’s amendment. You know, as the American people think of needy populations in need of assistance, I have yet to encounter a single constituent in Texas or in any of our states that considers politicians anywhere near the top of the list. This bill, in addition to being the ‘Corrupt Politicians Act,’ is also the ‘Welfare for Politicians Act.’ Because this bill creates a matching program for politicians—not just an even matching program, a 6 to 1 matching program of federal funds flooding in to federal elections. Because the Democratic majority, by the way, the narrowest majority possible, in a 50-50 Senate, has deemed that billions of dollars of federal funds need to flow into funding their campaigns…. Your constituents, in every one of your states, I’d venture, do not want to give your campaigns or my campaigns millions of dollars of federal money. We don’t need welfare for politicians and I urge you to support Senator Blunt’s amendment.” (Sen. Cruz, U.S. Senate Rules and Administration Committee Business Meeting, 5/11/2021)

All 9 Democrats on the Senate Rules Committee voted against Sen. Blunt’s amendment. (“Senate Rules And Administration Committee Markup: Senate Panel Displays Partisan Divide Over Sweeping Voting Bill,” CQ Committee Coverage, 5/11/2021)

Even When Republicans Suggested Directing The Public Funds Set Aside In The Bill To Struggling Rural Hospitals Or Combatting Opioid Addiction, Democrats Voted To Spend That Money On Their Own Campaigns Instead

SEN. CINDY HYDE-SMITH (R-MS): “At a time when we have so many competing priorities for federal funding—and a ballooning national debt going out of sight, we need to dedicate taxpayer funds to the real challenges confronting our communities, not to help politicians pay for their campaigns… This amendment would take the money that this bill wants to put toward political campaigns and instead use that money to help shore up our struggling rural hospitals.” (Sen. Hyde-Smith, Press Release, 5/11/2021)

LEADER McCONNELL: “Senator Hyde-Smith and Senator Cruz I thought made a compelling argument that spending money on political campaigns was ill-advised, and they recommended that money be spent on rural hospitals. What the McConnell amendment number three does is designate that public funding to go to fighting the opioid epidemic.” (Sen. McConnell, U.S. Senate Rules and Administration Committee Business Meeting, 5/11/2021)

All 9 Democrats on the Senate Rules Committee voted against the amendments offered by Sen. Hyde-Smith and Sen. McConnell. (“Senate Rules And Administration Committee Markup: Senate Panel Displays Partisan Divide Over Sweeping Voting Bill,” CQ Committee Coverage, 5/11/2021)

Democrats Even Refused To Delay The Effective Date Of Their Partisan Legislation, Thus Ensuring That Their Own Campaigns Could Benefit From The American People’s Money

SEN. DEB FISCHER (R-NE): “Madam Chair, this would make members of the 117th Congress ineligible for the public financing of campaigns established under Title 5 of S.1. The federal government should not subsidize congressional campaigns, let alone campaigns of sitting members of Congress. While I don’t support taxpayer funding of politicians with this 6 to 1 government match for contributions of up to $200 dollars, the least we can do is make absolutely sure that no one in this room can benefit off of legislation we are currently debating. … My amendment would disqualify sitting members of Congress from taking advantage of public financing of their campaigns should this legislation pass.” (Sen. Fischer, U.S. Senate Rules and Administration Committee Business Meeting, 5/11/2021)

SEN. BILL HAGERTY (R-TN): “What my amendment does is prevent the current majority from changing the rules of their elections in an attempt to keep power and to avoid future competitive elections. Therefore, my amendment is going to delay the effective date of the entire bill until July 1 of 2027. That way no one voting on this bill today will be in a position to change the rules for their own election.” (Sen. Hagerty, U.S. Senate Rules and Administration Committee Business Meeting, 5/11/2021)

All 9 Democrats on the Senate Rules Committee voted against the amendments offered by Sen. Fischer and Sen. Hagerty. (“Senate Rules And Administration Committee Markup: Senate Panel Displays Partisan Divide Over Sweeping Voting Bill,” CQ Committee Coverage, 5/11/2021)


Democrats Insisted On Keeping Language That Would Mutate The FEC From A Bipartisan Commission Based On Impartiality Into A Partisan Weapon: ‘Nothing To Do With Ballot Access; Everything To Do With Raw Power’

LEADER McCONNELL: “The [Federal Election Commission] was created in 1974 in the wake of Watergate. The nation was keenly aware that enforcing the laws surrounding politics and campaigns was a sensitive job that no one political party, no one president, could be allowed to commandeer. There was broad, bipartisan understanding that this new panel had to be beyond reproach. That’s why it was built with an even-numbered membership, limits on commissioners’ party affiliation, and requirements for supermajority support. Legitimacy would have to come from impartiality. All the way back in 1976, the Democratic Senator Alan Cranston from California specifically warned that, ‘The FEC has such a potential for abuse in our democratic society that the President should not be given power over the Commission.’ Much more recently, one of the FEC’s most liberal commissioners reaffirmed that the bipartisan structure was established ‘to ensure that there was not going to be a partisan effort to use investigations against one political party or another.’ And yet, in this sweeping legislation which my Democratic friends keep characterizing as a voting rights bill, they go out of their way to make the FEC partisan. Nothing to do with ballot access; everything to do with raw power. This legislation would convert the FEC into an odd-numbered body where President Biden would pick the tiebreaking vote. The exact outcome that was originally feared — the regulator of our democracy becoming controlled by one side — would be hard-wired into the rules by design. This is so plainly unfair, so plainly an attempt to stack the deck, that I’m not sure what more even needs to be said…. This amendment would eliminate the bizarre and inexcusable attempt to make the FEC a partisan body; and instead, actually cap the FEC commissioners’ tenures at 12 years. I encourage my colleagues to support McConnell Amendment 1.” (Sen. McConnell, U.S. Senate Rules and Administration Committee Business Meeting, 5/11/2021)

SEN. ANGUS KING (I-ME): “But how do you characterize this as a partisan power grab when no more than two out of the five [FEC commissioners] can be from the same party? …”
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): “And Senator King if I may address that question as well. I think Senator McConnell is absolutely right. It is not complicated for a partisan president to find three votes who are going to vote with him. You know I would note in the U.S. Senate there are two Senators, yourself and Senator Sanders, who are declared Independents, but who vote with the Democratic Party with such absolute predictability as to be entirely reliable. … And I would point out that that to take Senator Sanders, for example, I think it would be difficult for anyone to argue with a straight face that a Federal Election Commission that consisted of two explicit Democrats and Senator Sanders would not be a partisan weapon.” (U.S. Senate Rules and Administration Committee Business Meeting, 5/11/2021)

All 9 Democrats on the Senate Rules Committee voted against Sen. McConnell’s amendment. (“Senate Rules And Administration Committee Markup: Senate Panel Displays Partisan Divide Over Sweeping Voting Bill,” CQ Committee Coverage, 5/11/2021)


Democrats Defended Provisions That Would Grant The Newly-Partisan FEC They Favor ‘Major New Authorities To Police The First Amendment Speech Of Citizens And Groups’ And Retain Onerous New Disclosure Requirements That Would Chill Speech And Enable Harassment And Intimidation Of Citizens For Their Political Views

LEADER McCONNELL: “This bill is riddled with a variety of different efforts to give Washington D.C. more control and more power over the free speech of American citizens. Some of this is overt. S. 1 would give the newly-partisan FEC major new authorities to police the First Amendment speech of citizens and groups, far above and beyond the regulations that are already in place. A lot more speech would get swept under the feds’ umbrella. There are also efforts to chill free speech that are more indirect, but still sinister. Our nation has a long and important history with the subject of associational privacy. The idea is that Americans are free to form private groups around their interests and values — and neither nosy neighbors nor nosy bureaucrats are entitled to know who believes what unless individuals choose to go public. In 1958, the NAACP took this issue all the way to the Supreme Court and won a landmark case against the state of Alabama. More than 60 years ago, folks understood that when the government tries to force private organizations to publicize their supporters, the First Amendment is the biggest loser. Our current, hyper-politicized climate is the last time we can afford to forget these lessons. In a world where Americans with unfashionable views are subjected to online harassment… where strangers come after people’s employment for expressing views… the same privacy rights that the NAACP fought for 60 years ago remain paramount. That’s why my First Amendment and privacy concerns with so many parts of this bill have been echoed by folks that might surprise you. In a recent Washington Post op-ed, lawyers from the liberal American Civil Liberties Union warned that aspects of the bill before us ‘could directly interfere with the ability of many to engage in political speech about causes that they care about and that impact their lives.’ My amendment would cut pieces of this legislation that are designed to directly increase government power over Americans’ free speech or indirectly chill that exercise. It cuts out invasive disclosure requirements that attack citizens’ privacy, the expanded FEC jurisdiction into broad new categories of speech, and the provisions designed to let federal authorities like the IRS target political organizations they don’t like for undue scrutiny. I encourage my colleagues to support McConnell Amendment 2.” (Sen. McConnell, U.S. Senate Rules and Administration Committee Business Meeting, 5/11/2021)

Amicus Brief from the ACLU, NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE FUND, KNIGHT FIRST AMENDMENT INSTITUTE AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN (HRC), and the PEN AMERICAN CENTER: “The disclosure law at issue here, at least as it has been implemented by California, risks undermining the freedom to associate for expressive purposes. That freedom, in turn, is fundamental to our democracy, and has long been protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments. A critical corollary of the freedom to associate is the right to maintain the confidentiality of one’s associations, absent a strong governmental interest in disclosure. If the State could categorically demand disclosure of associational information, the ability of citizens to organize to defend values out of favor with the majority would be seriously diminished. As this Court recognized in NAACP v. Alabama ex rel. Patterson, 357 U.S. 449 (1958), the compelled disclosure of an expressive association’s members or supporters threatens to chill free association, because people may refrain from exercising those freedoms rather than expose themselves to government reprisal or private retaliation…. In general, the compelled disclosure of associational information to the public dramatically increases the risk of private retaliation against the members and supporters of potentially controversial groups, is more likely to chill the exercise of associational freedoms …” (“Brief Amici Curiae Of The American Civil Liberties Union, Inc., American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, Inc., Naacp Legal Defense And Educational Fund, Inc., Knight First Amendment Institute At Columbia University, Human Rights Campaign, And Pen American Center, Inc., In Support Of Petitioners,” Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Becerra, Nos. 19-251 & 19-255, Supreme Court of the United States, 3/01/2021)

All 9 Democrats on the Senate Rules Committee voted against Sen. McConnell’s amendment. (“Senate Rules And Administration Committee Markup: Senate Panel Displays Partisan Divide Over Sweeping Voting Bill,” CQ Committee Coverage, 5/11/2021)


Democrats All Voted To Preserve A Provision Undermining State Voter ID Laws All Across The Country, Despite Americans’ Overwhelming Support For Requiring An ID To Vote

SEN. CINDY HYDE-SMITH (R-MS): “Section 1903 of [this bill] undermines the voter ID laws that are on the books in 36 states, in both Democrat and Republican states. It would effectively revoke all voter ID laws in the country by requiring states to accept a sworn written statement in lieu of voter ID at the polling place.” (Sen. Hyde-Smith, U.S. Senate Rules and Administration Committee Business Meeting, 5/11/2021)

  • SEN. HYDE-SMITH: “[S.1] requires states to permit sworn statements in lieu of showing voter ID at the polls. This effectively undermines all state voter ID laws [including one] that I worked very hard on in Mississippi. This amendment would do three specific things. Number one, it would amend the law so that any vote cast with a sworn statement instead of with the voter ID would be considered a provisional ballot. This is consistent with Mississippi law where voters without ID can instead cast a provisional ballot. And number two is to add findings of the constitutionality of voter ID Laws. And number three, add findings about public polling on the popularity of voter ID laws.” (Sen. Hyde-Smith, U.S. Senate Rules and Administration Committee Business Meeting, 5/11/2021)
  • SEN. HYDE-SMITH: “This amendment would require any ballot cast without meeting state voter ID requirements to be considered a provisional ballot. This would permit states like Mississippi to continue to enforce their Voter ID laws, which have proven successful in preventing fraud and promoting the integrity of elections… Voter ID is constitutional, popular, and doesn’t hold any legal voter back from the polls. Instead, Voter ID functions to ensure that nobody is voting illegally.” (Sen. Hyde-Smith, Press Release, 5/11/2021)

SEN. CRUZ: “This is another provision that shows just how out of touch and extreme this legislation is. The vast majority of Americans support voter ID laws. I commend Senator Hyde-Smith for this amendment. Seventy-five percent of Americans support requiring a photo ID for voting. By the way, that’s bipartisan. Sixty percent of Democrats support requiring photo ID to vote…. By the way, you need a photo ID to drive; you need a photo ID to get on an airplane; you need a photo ID to get married; you need a photo ID, if you’re young, to go to an R-rated movie; you need a photo ID to buy a beer; and you need a photo ID to pick up your tickets at the will call window of a baseball game; and yet the position of Senate Democrats is those 75% of Americans are wrong and no photo ID should be required.” (Sen. Cruz, U.S. Senate Rules and Administration Committee Business Meeting, 5/11/2021)

All 9 Democrats on the Senate Rules Committee voted against Sen. Hyde-Smith’s amendment. (“Senate Rules And Administration Committee Markup: Senate Panel Displays Partisan Divide Over Sweeping Voting Bill,” CQ Committee Coverage, 5/11/2021)

Requiring An ID To Vote Remains A Broadly Popular Policy For Americans Across Party Lines

“[F]ully 4 in 5 Americans (80%) support requiring voters to show photo identification in order to cast a ballot. Just 18% oppose this.” (“Public Supports Both Early Voting And Requiring Photo ID to Vote,” Monmouth University Polling Institute, 6/21/2021)

According to an April Pew Research Center survey, 76% of Americans, including 61% of Democrats, favor “requiring all voters to show government-issued photo identification to vote.” (Pew Research Center, 4/22/2021)

“The [AP-NORC] poll found bipartisan agreement on requiring all voters to provide photo identification at their polling place -- something that more than a dozen mostly Republican-led states have implemented…. Overall, 72% are in favor of requiring voters to provide photo identification to vote, while just 13% are opposed. Ninety-one percent of Republicans and 56% of Democrats are in favor.” (The Associated Press, 4/02/2021)

“Voter ID, a major component of Georgia’s new election law, is popular among people despite criticism about the measure from Democratic leaders, according to recent polls.” (“Voter ID Rules Popular Among Public: Polls,” Washington Examiner, 4/02/2021)

  • “[T]he public strongly supports one of the other major stipulations of Georgia’s new law: the ID requirement for absentee voting. That latest YouGov/The Economist poll found that Americans support requiring a photo ID in order to vote absentee, 53 percent to 28 percent. And Georgians are even more supportive: 74 percent of registered voters in the UGA/AJC poll backed requiring voters to include a copy of their photo ID or other documentation in order to vote by mail. Indeed, voter ID laws … are quite popular in general. In another national poll out this week from Selzer & Co./Grinnell College, 56 percent of adults favored keeping laws that require people to show a photo ID before voting, while just 36 percent wanted to eliminate them. And this isn’t an opinion Americans suddenly adopted …  In fall 2018, the Pew Research Center found that 76 percent of Americans favored requiring everyone to show a government-issued photo ID in order to vote, versus only 23 percent who opposed it.” (FiveThirtyEight, 4/02/2021)


Democrats Refused To Change Language That Would Strip Democratically Elected State Legislatures Of Their Historic Ability To Draw Districts And Instead Hand That Power To Unelected, Unaccountable Commissions Or Judges In Washington, DC

SEN. BILL HAGERTY (R-TN): “This bill sets up a complex process that removes from the elected representatives of the states the drawing of congressional districts in their states, which they have done for the entire history of this country. My amendment would strike this portion of the bill and keep democratically elected state representatives in charge of our election rules.” (Sen. Hagerty, Press Release, 5/11/2021)

  • SEN. HAGERTY: “My amendment would instead keep democratically elected state representatives in charge ... I’m concerned that Democrat members of the unelected redistricting commissions that are embedded in this bill, who are charged with drawing Congressional districts under the bill, would simply object to a map that isn’t gerrymandered in the most favorable way to Democrats. That would then deadlock the commission process and punt it to the court system. Specifically, it would punt it to a court in Washington, D.C. that is specifically charged with drawing all of these maps. So the result then would be an unelected judge in Washington, D.C., or a D.C. consultant that the judge is specifically allowed to appoint to draw the maps under this bill. They’d be the ones in charge of drawing Congressional districts in every state in the country instead of using a democratic state-specific process that has been in existence for the entirety of American history. Why is that? Why did Democrats want this? Because they think this will lead to a gerrymandered map, again, in their favor, again, underscoring the fact that this is a massive power grab embedded in this bill.” (Sen. Hagerty, U.S. Senate Rules and Administration Committee Business Meeting, 5/11/2021)

All 9 Democrats on the Senate Rules Committee voted against Sen. Hagerty’s amendment. (“Senate Rules And Administration Committee Markup: Senate Panel Displays Partisan Divide Over Sweeping Voting Bill,” CQ Committee Coverage, 5/11/2021)



Related Issues: Senate Democrats, Campaigns & Elections