Democrats’ Third Attempt At A Partisan Election Power Grab Is More Of The Same
LEADER McCONNELL: ‘Senator Schumer Wants To Stage Another Political Stunt Around The Umpteenth Iteration Of The Same Partisan Power Grab That The Senate Has Already Considered And Rejected Repeatedly. It Is The Same Rotten Core As Speaker Pelosi’s H.R. 1 With Slightly Amended Window Dressing’
SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “Another week, another effort by Washington Democrats to create fake drama over a proposed election takeover that will go nowhere. Senator Schumer wants to stage another political stunt around the umpteenth iteration of the same partisan power grab that the Senate has already considered and rejected repeatedly. It is the same rotten core as Speaker Pelosi’s H.R. 1 with slightly amended window dressing. Democrats call this latest repackaging a ‘compromise,’ but it’s only a compromise among themselves. It is not a compromise for the left and the far left to discuss how much power they should grab. All the facts about voting and turnout contradict the far-left hysteria about our democracy. But this has never been about reality. Democrats have pushed the same legislative proposals after 2016, when they claimed our democracy was in crisis and needed an overhaul, and after 2020, when they switched to claiming that our democracy is unimpeachably strong if only red states would leave it alone. Democrats’ claims turn on a dime every couple of years, but somehow their desired response never changes: Giving Washington Democrats vast and unprecedented partisan power to micromanage elections across America. I understand that Democrats are concerned about their reelections. Citizens are unhappy with the never-ending series of national crises that Democrats’ policies are inflicting on their families. The solution to their unpopularity is not this obsessive quest to rewrite election law and rig the game. It is to stop ramming through terrible policies that hurt families and help China. The Senate is designed to stop bad ideas and purely partisan proposals while helping truly necessary and bipartisan bills become law. As we have shown in the recent past, the Senate is fully capable of making law in this area when actual issues need actual solutions and actual bipartisan work occurs. By contrast, there is nothing necessary or bipartisan about this naked power grab, so it will continue to go nowhere.” (Sen. McConnell, Press Release, 10/14/2021)
- LEADER McCONNELL: “What our Democratic friends have been wanting to do forever is to have the federal government takeover how elections are conducted all over America. There’s no basis for that. No basis for it whatsoever. So this latest iteration is just another example of how they would like to have the federal government takeover all state elections…. These are normal administrative provisions that our Democratic friends would like to get rid of. So it is my hope and anticipation that none of us will vote for this latest iteration of Democratic efforts to take over how every American votes all over the country.” (Sen. McConnell, Press Conference, 10/19/2021)
New Verse, Same As The First: Senate Democrats Are Putting Forward A Bill With ‘The Same Rotten Core’ As Their Original Partisan Election Takeover, Written By Democrats, For Democrats
“Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is moving Monday to set up a vote on the Freedom to Vote Act, which is likely to take place Wednesday…. The bill doesn't have the 60 votes it needs to overcome a guaranteed Republican filibuster, meaning it will die … The sprawling bill would set minimum standards for voting access in all states … It is a pared-back version of the For the People Act [H.R. 1/S. 1] …” (“Senate To Vote On Sweeping Voting Rights Bill Republicans Promise To Filibuster,” NBC News, 10/18/2021)
“The new Freedom to Vote Act retains significant portions of the For the People Act, Democrats’ marquee voting legislation that passed the House this year but was blocked by a Republican filibuster in June.” (The Washington Post, 9/14/2021)
- “The bill was hashed out over the summer by a group of senators that included [Sen. Joe] Manchin [D-WV] and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), chairman of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, as well as Sens. Tim Kaine (D- Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Raphael G. Warnock (D-Ga.).” (The Washington Post, 9/14/2021)
“Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) vowed anew to keep his party united in opposition to any federal voting legislation, and even some of the most moderate Republican senators whom Manchin has briefed on the new bill said they believed it went too far.” (The Washington Post, 9/14/2021)
Senate Democrats Have Already Failed Twice This Year To Get Any Bipartisan Support For Their Partisan Election Takeover Legislation
In June, Republicans unanimously rejected Democrats’ first attempt to pass their partisan election takeover legislation. (S.2093, Roll Call Vote #246: Motion rejected 50-50: D 48-0; R 0-50; I 2-0, 6/22/2021)
In August, Democrats again failed to get any bipartisan support for their partisan election takeover legislation. (S.1, Roll Call Vote #358: Motion agreed to 50-49: D 48-0; R 0-49; I 2-0, 8/11/2021)
Remember, The Core Of This ‘Sweeping Liberal Wish List’ Was Written In 2019 And ‘Largely Viewed As A Messaging Bill,’ All Of Which ‘Has Undermined Democratic Claims That The Fate Of The Republic Relies On Its Passage’
LEADER McCONNELL: “Remember, for several years now, our Democratic friends have claimed that every successive election proved they needed to grab partisan control over our democracy. In 2016, 2018, and 2020… win or lose… when foreign interference occurred and when it did not occur… every possible result has been claimed as proof that Washington Democrats should rip up our democracy’s rule book and write a new one that benefits them. The latest phony justification has been the false notion that a few states’ mainstream voting laws equal some kind of assault on democracy as we know it. Of course, that’s utter nonsense…. the reality is that these moving goalposts are fake. The frantic outrage is phony. It’s all meant to justify a political power grab that Democrats have had written and waiting since years before any of these new state laws which are supposedly prompting it.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 7/28/2021)
“When the bill was written it was largely viewed as a messaging bill, meant to be used to make a political point rather than pass …” (“Democrats Mull Overhaul Of Sweeping Election Bill,” The Hill, 6/13/2021)
- “As currently written, the bill constitutes a sweeping liberal wish list …” (“Democrats Splinter Over Strategy for Pushing Through Voting Rights Bill,” The New York Times, 3/30/2021)
“Democrats’ proposal to reshape the political system was born after they took over the House in 2019. They quickly put together a sweeping bill with new federal standards and rules that touch nearly every aspect of the campaigning and election administration process …” (“Senate Dems Don’t Know How to Salvage Their Voting Bill,” The Daily Beast, 6/14/2021)
- “The For the People Act would completely overhaul campaign finance regulations in America and create public funding for congressional campaigns, too.” (“As Hope For Federal Voting Rights Rescue Dims, State Democrats, Advocates Turn Up The Heat,” NBC News, 6/14/2021)
“[T]he sweep — critics say overreach — of the Democrats’ … For the People Act, has undermined Democratic claims that the fate of the republic relies on its passage.” (The New York Times, 6/14/2021)
The ‘Rotten Core’ Of Democrats’ Latest Partisan Power Grab Still Includes The Same Terrible Provisions
Democrats’ Partisan Bill Still Features A ‘Federal Commandeering Of State-Run Elections,’ ‘A Solution In Search Of A Problem’
LEADER McCONNELL: “Let me say for the umpteenth time, going back to discussions about federalizing the way we handle elections after the 2016 election, that there is no rational basis for the federal government taking over how we conduct elections in this country…. It is a solution in search of a problem, and we will not be supporting that.” (Sen. McConnell, Press Conference, 10/19/2021)
SEN. ROY BLUNT (R-MO), Senate Rules & Administration Committee Ranking Member: “Democracies benefits from local responsibility. One political party, however, thinks this bill will give it an electoral advantage. They have thought that for about 20 years. This is the compilation of 20 years of Democrats in the Congress thinking, what could we do to change the election law that would be helpful for us? That is where we are in this legislation. It was written by one party alone. It has been steered through Congress by one party alone.” (Sen. Blunt, Congressional Record, S.4566, 6/16/2021)
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): “I represent a state with one of the highest turnouts in the country consistently, and yet we don’t have early voting…. So I don’t see why the federal government should impose rules on a state and preempt state laws for a state that’s doing a great job.” (The Washington Post, 9/14/2021)
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): “[H]ere is the bottom line: Each State has the authority to determine the ‘times, places, and manner of holding elections.’ Where does that come from? Well, that is article I of the Constitution of the United States of America. But our Democratic colleagues insist on pushing for a one-size-fits-all mandate that turns federalism, including the Constitution itself, on its head…. [T]his Federal commandeering of State-run elections, is rife with opportunities for fraud. It mandates things like automatic voter registration and ballot drop boxes, while making it more difficult for the States to maintain accurate voter lists. It would even go so far as to make it harder for the States to remove dead voters from their rolls…. Why would Senator Schumer and Speaker Pelosi be pushing this takeover of State-run elections? Well, it is pretty obvious. They think that our Democratic colleagues will reap the benefits of hijacking State election laws. That is really their goal here. They want to put a thumb on the scale of future elections. They want to take power away from the voters and the States and give themselves every partisan advantage they can.” (Sen. Cornyn, Congressional Record, S.4003, 6/09/2021)
HONEST ELECTIONS PROJECT: “The newly introduced “Freedom to Vote Act” is a partisan, federal takeover of elections just like past legislation …
- “The bill makes it harder for states to remove ineligible voters from the rolls, replace incompetent officials, protect voters from electioneering, and to allow poll observers to monitor voting.
- “Instead of allowing communities to determine the best way to run their elections, this bill forces every state, despite obvious logistical difference, to meet Washington’s arbitrary standards.
- “The bill overrides the Constitution and restores voting privileges to convicted felons before they complete their sentences or pay victim restitution. The 14th Amendment expressly leaves felon voting decisions to the states.
- “The legislation further undermines states’ abilities to conduct their own elections by dictating specific federal criteria for redrawing congressional districts.” (“Freedom to Cheat Act: A Partisan Federal Takeover of American Elections,” Honest Elections Project Action, 9/2021)
Democrats’ Partisan Bill Would Still Send Federal Money To Partisan Political Campaigns
SEN. JONI ERNST (R-IA): “[I]n each new Congress, the bill number S. 1 is a sign of the majority’s priority legislation. It says a lot about the new Democrat majority that the bill they chose to design as S. 1 prioritizes themselves. This bill creates a Federal campaign fund to finance the expenses of candidates for Congress. Instead of addressing the important issues that are on the minds of my fellow Iowans--like the rising cost of gasoline, bread, milk, and all sorts of household goods--this bill literally takes [public] money … puts it into the campaign coffers of Washington politicians. Rather than helping to get Americans back to work, the Democrats’ top priority, again, is S. 1. Their top priority is to create a Federal jobs program for political consultants and pollsters, taxpayer-subsidized robocalls interrupting your family dinner, junk mail cluttering your mailbox, and attack ads blaring--yes--on your TV…. That is right. The bill subsidizes politicians’ campaigns--your tax dollars helping to elect politicians who oppose your values…. While the Democrats call the bill the For the People Act, a more apt title would be ‘Fund the Politicians Act.’” (Sen. Ernst, Congressional Record, S.4571, 6/16/2021)
Follow The Money: Democrats’ Latest Partisan Bill Still Collects Public Money And Then Authorizes It To Be Distributed To Political Candidates
PAGE 540: “SEC. 8111. Benefits and eligibility requirements for candidates.
The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (52 U.S.C. 30101 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following: ‘TITLE V—Small Dollar Financing of Elections for House of Representatives
SEC. 501. Benefits for participating candidates.
(a) In general.—If a candidate for election to the office of Representative in, or Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, the Congress is certified as a participating candidate under this title with respect to an election for such office, the candidate shall be entitled to payments as provided under this title.
(b) Amount of payment.—The amount of a payment made under this title shall be equal to 600 percent of the amount of qualified small dollar contributions received by the candidate since the most recent payment made to the candidate under this title during the election cycle …” (S. 2747, 117th Congress)
PAGE 571: “SEC. 541. Source of payments.
(a) Allocations from State Election Assistance and Innovation Trust Fund.—The amounts used to make payments to participating candidates under this title who seek office in a State shall be derived from the allocations made to the Commission with respect to the State from the State Election Assistance and Innovation Trust Fund (hereafter referred to as the ‘Fund’) under section 8012 of the Freedom to Vote Act, as provided under section 8005(c) of such Act.” (S. 2747, 117th Congress)
PAGE 518: “SEC. 8011. State Election Assistance and Innovation Trust Fund.
(a) Establishment.—There is established in the Treasury a fund to be known as the ‘State Election Assistance and Innovation Trust Fund’.” (S. 2747, 117th Congress)
PAGES 521-522: “Transfers.—In a manner consistent with section 3302(b) of title 31, there shall be transferred from the General Fund of the Treasury to the State Election Assistance and Innovation Trust Fund under section 8011 of the Freedom to Vote Act an amount equal to the amount of the assessments collected under this section.” (S. 2747, 117th Congress)
Democrats’ Partisan Legislation Would Still Unconstitutionally Expand The FEC’s Power To Regulate All Kinds Of Core Political Speech
LEADER McCONNELL: “The legislation contains multiple elements that would chill Americans’ exercise of free speech and let Washington bureaucrats hoard more of citizens’ private information without good cause. … The prior Administration had the IRS stop blanket collection of nonpublic information about citizens who make non-tax-deductible contributions to certain organizations. Contributions to 501(c)(4) organizations are not tax-deductible. The IRS doesn’t need these details just for kicks and giggles. But now, Democrats’ political takeover bills would roll back this step and open new fronts in the far-left war on privacy and free speech. S. 1 would narrow the protections of the First Amendment. It would empower the feds with new authority to track and police Americans’ speech.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 5/20/2021)
INSTITUTE FOR FREE SPEECH: “H.R. 1 would: Unconstitutionally regulate speech that mentions a federal candidate or elected official at any time under a vague, subjective, and dangerously broad standard that asks whether the speech ‘promotes,’ ‘attacks,’ ‘supports,’ or ‘opposes’ (‘PASO’) the candidate or official. This standard is impossible to understand and would likely regulate any mention of an elected official who hasn’t announced their retirement.” (“Analysis of H.R. 1 (Part One):’For the People Act’ Is Replete with Provisions for the Politicians,” Institute for Free Speech, 2/2021)
- “Compel groups to declare on new, publicly filed ‘campaign-related disbursement’ reports that their ads are either ‘in support of or in opposition’ to the elected official mentioned, even if their ads are neither. This form of compulsory speech forces organizations to declare their allegiance or opposition to public officials, provides false information to the public, and is unconstitutional.” (“Analysis of H.R. 1 (Part One):’For the People Act’ Is Replete with Provisions for the Politicians,” Institute for Free Speech, 2/2021)
- “Subject far more issue ads to lengthy disclaimer requirements, which will coerce groups into truncating their substantive message and make some advertising, especially online, practically impossible.” (“Analysis of H.R. 1 (Part One):’For the People Act’ Is Replete with Provisions for the Politicians,” Institute for Free Speech, 2/2021)
- “For the first time ever, subject groups that sponsor communications about judicial nominees to burdensome campaign finance reporting, donor exposure, and disclaimer requirements without any sound policy justification or recognized constitutional basis for doing so.” (“Analysis of H.R. 1 (Part One):’For the People Act’ Is Replete with Provisions for the Politicians,” Institute for Free Speech, 2/2021)
- “Expand the universe of regulated online political speech (by Americans) beyond paid advertising to include, apparently, communications on groups’ or individuals’ own websites, social media platforms, and e-mail messages.” (“Analysis of H.R. 1 (Part One):’For the People Act’ Is Replete with Provisions for the Politicians,” Institute for Free Speech, 2/2021)
- “Regulate speech (by Americans) about legislative issues by expanding the definition of ‘electioneering communications’ – historically limited to large-scale TV and radio campaigns targeted to the electorate in a campaign for office – to include online advertising, even if the ads are not targeted in any way at a relevant electorate.” (“Analysis of H.R. 1 (Part One):’For the People Act’ Is Replete with Provisions for the Politicians,” Institute for Free Speech, 2/2021)
- “Impose inflexible disclaimer requirements on online ads from American speakers that may make many forms of small, popular, and cost-effective ads advocating government policy changes or the election or defeat of candidates effectively impossible.” (“Analysis of H.R. 1 (Part One):’For the People Act’ Is Replete with Provisions for the Politicians,” Institute for Free Speech, 2/2021)
The Bill Still Includes Democrats’ Years-Old Partisan DISCLOSE Act, Which Would Force Organizations To Publicize Their Donors In Order To Open Them Up To Political Attacks, Something Even The ACLU Opposes
SEN. McCONNELL: “The bill also tramples on citizens’ privacy with new mandates that would intensify ‘cancel culture’ and help mobs harass people for their private views.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 3/04/2021)
“Some of the disclosure requirements in H.R. 1 have drawn objections from across the ideological spectrum. The American Civil Liberties Union has said that it supports disclosures tied to ‘express advocacy’ of a candidate’s election or defeat. The bill goes further, though, requiring disclosures in connection with policy debates that refer to candidates.” (“Constitutional Challenges Loom Over Proposed Voting Bill,” The New York Times, 5/05/2021)
AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION (ACLU): “Unfortunately, the DISCLOSE Act of 2019 reaches beyond those bounds, and, like its predecessors, strikes the wrong balance between the public’s interest in knowing who supports or opposes candidates for office and the vital associational privacy rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. The upshot of the DISCLOSE Act, and the essence of why we oppose it, is that it would chill the speech of issue advocacy groups and non-profits such as the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, or the NRA that is essential to our public discourse and protected by the First Amendment.” (ACLU, Letter to Reps. McGovern and Cole, 3/01/2019)
- ACLU: “[T]he bill would also require disclosure of an overbroad number of donors. Even with the $10,000 trigger, many donors to issue advocacy organizations may be surprised to find themselves held responsible for communications they may not know about, or, potentially, even support. It is unfair to hold donors responsible for every communication in which an organization engages. Moreover, it is unclear how such an overbroad requirement serves the government’s interest in providing the electorate information about who is supporting or opposing a candidate for office. The Constitution requires a healthy respect for associational privacy. In NAACP v. Alabama, the Supreme Court recognized that “[i]nviolability of privacy in group association may in many circumstances be indispensable to preservation of freedom of association, particularly where a group espouses dissident beliefs.” For that reason alone, we should be very cautious when contemplating invasions of that privacy. Because the DISCLOSE Act would expose the private associations of an overbroad number of donors, it fails to respect this first constitutional principle.” (ACLU, Letter to Reps. McGovern and Cole, 3/01/2019)
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)
Earlier This Year The Supreme Court Struck Down A California Requirement That Charitable Organizations Give Their Donor Lists To The State In Part Because ‘The Risk Of A Chilling Effect On Association Is Enough’
LEADER McCONNELL: “The [Supreme] Court also confirmed… what decades-old legal precedent already tells us: that associational privacy is a fundamental American right. As the NAACP argued forcefully more than half a century ago, the defense of First Amendment rights is especially important in places where citizens’ views cut against those of governing majorities. As such, the ruling in Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta is a stern warning to those corners of the Left where naming and shaming is treated like a routine political tool. It should also serve as a cautionary tale for any elected Democrat still hoping to codify dragnet disclosure and tip the scales of our electoral system. Today, the Supreme Court discharged its duty to uphold the rights and protections underpinning our system of representative government, and our nation can be rightly proud.” (Sen. McConnell, Press Release, 7/01/2021)
CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS: “The ‘government may regulate in the [First Amendment] area only with narrow specificity,’ … and compelled disclosure regimes are no exception. When it comes to ‘a person’s beliefs and associations,’ ‘[b]road and sweeping state inquiries into these protected areas . . . discourage citizens from exercising rights protected by the Constitution.’ … [W]e conclude that California’s blanket demand for [IRS Form 990] Schedule Bs [listing names and addresses of donors] is facially unconstitutional.” (Americans For Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta, Attorney General Of California, Supreme Court of the United States, No. 19–251, 7/01/2021)
- “In the First Amendment context … we have recognized ‘a second type of facial challenge, whereby a law may be invalidated as overbroad if a substantial number of its applications are unconstitutional, judged in relation to the statute’s plainly legitimate sweep.’ … We have no trouble concluding here that the Attorney General [of California’s] disclosure requirement is over-broad.” (Americans For Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta, Attorney General Of California, Supreme Court of the United States, No. 19–251, 7/01/2021)
- “Our cases have said that disclosure requirements can chill association ‘[e]ven if there [is] no disclosure to the general public.’ … It is irrelevant, moreover, that some donors might not mind—or might even prefer—the disclosure of their identities to the State. The disclosure requirement ‘creates an unnecessary risk of chilling’ in violation of the First Amendment … The petitioners here, for example, introduced evidence that they and their supporters have been subjected to bomb threats, protests, stalking, and physical violence … Such risks are heightened in the 21st century and seem to grow with each passing year, as ‘anyone with access to a computer [can] compile a wealth of information about’ anyone else, including such sensitive details as a person’s home address or the school attended by his children…. The gravity of the privacy concerns in this context is further underscored by the filings of hundreds of organizations as amici curiae in support of the petitioners. Far from representing uniquely sensitive causes, these organizations span the ideological spectrum, and indeed the full range of human endeavors: from the American Civil Liberties Union to the Proposition 8 Legal Defense Fund; from the Council on American-Islamic Relations to the Zionist Organization of America; from Feeding America—Eastern Wisconsin to PBS Reno. The deterrent effect feared by these organizations is real and pervasive …’” (Americans For Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta, Attorney General Of California, Supreme Court of the United States, No. 19–251, 7/01/2021)
- “When it comes to the freedom of association, the protections of the First Amendment are triggered not only by actual restrictions on an individual’s ability to join with others to further shared goals. The risk of a chilling effect on association is enough, ‘[b]ecause First Amendment freedoms need breathing space to survive.’” (Americans For Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta, Attorney General Of California, Supreme Court of the United States, No. 19–251, 7/01/2021)
SENATE REPUBLICAN COMMUNICATIONS CENTER
Related Issues: Campaigns & Elections, Senate Democrats