Democrats Are Forgetting What’s Popular About Their Big Democracy Bill

May 14, 2021
In The News

Manchin’s idea of focusing on voting rights has favor with some congressional Democrats, including veteran members of the Congressional Black Caucus. It would also be a massive political mistake, ditching the most popular provisions of the legislation and turning the bill from a winner in key swing states and congressional districts into another iteration of what many voters see as partisan bickering over voting rights.... [The For the People Act], on the whole, is popular. A recording of conservative activists discussing how to stop the measure, obtained by The New Yorker, found them admitting that turning public opinion against the bill would be “incredibly difficult.” But the most popular parts of the legislation have always been the provisions aimed at limiting the political influence of corporations and the ultra-wealthy.... Maryland Rep. John Sarbanes, the lead sponsor of the House version of the legislation, noted the voting rights provisions were the “most animating on both sides” of the partisan divide. But the anti-corruption measures ― which include strengthening ethics requirements for executive appointees and judges, and forcing the disclosure of anonymous political spending ― test well across party lines. “Those parts of the bill are broadly supported, even by most Republicans out there in the country,” Sarbanes said. “When you lift those up, it puts McConnell and his allies on their back foot. They know that anti-corruption sentiment is very strong, even among their own constituents.” Right now, Sarbanes needs to find a path to passage for the legislation. And he’s sure Manchin’s suggestion won’t actually make that any easier. The plan is already the product of extensive intraparty negotiation. And Sarbanes said the possibility of attracting GOP support for voting rights legislation is nonexistent. “I don’t trust them, to be very honest,” Sarbanes said of Republicans. “I just don’t see any intersection of real reform with getting 10 Republican votes.” The obstacles to passing the legislation with only Democratic support are clear: Manchin’s opposition to moving the legislation at all, and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s opposition to eliminating the filibuster. But private Democratic polling, paid for by End Citizens United and obtained by HuffPost, shows the anti-corruption provisions of HR 1 are immensely popular in both Democrats’ home states.