House Democrats Pass Election Reforms As GOP Moves to Change Voting Laws

March 3, 2021
In The News

The House late Wednesday night passed a sweeping ethics and voting rights package, first introduced in 2019.The "For the People Act of 2021" is something Democrats say is urgently needed as Republican-controlled state legislatures scramble to change voting laws in the wake of the 2020 presidential election. The House passed the election reform bill in a 220-210 vote. The measure now heads to the Senate. The package would automatically register people to vote and restore the voting rights of felons. It would also mandate more than two weeks of early voting, encourage voting-by-mail and expand absentee ballot drop boxes across the country -- along with other provisions meant to address concerns raised by election officials during the 2020 election cycle. "We're not pursuing this reform against the backdrop of the status quo. We're pursuing it against the prospect that the Republicans will take things in the wrong direction, and in a significant way," Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., the lead sponsor of the bill told ABC News.... The legislation, like other key pieces of House Democrats' agenda, heads to the Democrat-controlled Senate, but is expected to languish given a lack of Republican support. Democrats need the backing of 10 Republicans to advance the package past the 60-vote threshold. Still, advocates said the passage of the measure is necessary in the House to put more pressure on Senate Democrats to consider changing the chamber's rules and eliminating the legislative filibuster, in order to pass their priorities through the narrowly-divided Senate when Democrats control Congress and the White House. "It's going to be hard without looking at reforming the filibuster," Sarbanes said of passing HR 1. "This sends a very clear message to our colleagues in the Senate of the high priority."