Sarbanes Urges Senate Republicans to End Year-Long Obstruction Effort and Finally Vote on H.R. 1 [Video]
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Democracy Reform Task Force Chair Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) today joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kan.), Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Rep. Colin Allred (D-Tex.), and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) to mark the one-year anniversary of passing H.R. 1, the For the People Act, in the U.S. House of Representatives and to demand that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Republicans finally hold an up or down vote on the bill.
On March 8, 2019, House Democrats passed H.R. 1 – a historic anti-corruption and clean elections bill that would expose secret foreign money in our politics, crack down on lobbyists, strengthen election security, protect the right to vote and return power back to the American people with clean, citizen-owned elections.
“We’re so proud of the work of … John Sarbanes,” said Speaker Pelosi. “He is the godfather of this legislation. He is the Chair of our [Democracy] Reform Task Force and just our spiritual leader of H.R. 1. And what was exciting about it is it really caught fire with our Freshmen. Well, they were our red to blue, at the time, our candidates. One hundred candidates sent me letters saying H.R. 1 should be the first order of business.”
“This is an important occasion to mark the one-year anniversary of the passage of H.R. 1 – The For the People Act….,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “But sadly, it also marks a whole year that Mitch McConnell has held this bill up on the Senate side, along with many, many other pieces of good legislation. But this is the first one. This is at the bottom of the pile, because we sent it first, and he refuses to bring it to the Senate floor.
Sarbanes continued: “In doing so, he’s not just frustrating the will of the House of Representatives…. He’s frustrating the will of the American people, because it is extremely clear, if you look at all the polling, the core elements of H.R. 1 are things that the people have a deep appetite for – whether they’re Republicans, Democrats, or Independents.”
See below for a transcript and video of the Congressman’s remarks.
“Thank you, Senator Schumer, and all of our colleagues from the Senate side.
“So, this is an important occasion to mark the one-year anniversary of the passage of H.R. 1 – The For the People Act – which is a transformative anti-corruption and clean elections bill. But sadly, it also marks a whole year that Mitch McConnell has held this bill up on the Senate side, along with many, many other pieces of good legislation. But this is the first one. This is at the bottom of the pile, because we sent it first, and he refuses to bring it to the Senate floor.
“In doing so, he’s not just frustrating the will of the House of Representatives…. He’s frustrating the will of the American people because it is extremely clear, if you look at all the polling, the core elements of H.R. 1 are things that the people have a deep appetite for – whether they’re Republicans, Democrats or Independents.
“They want to see these changes. They want to fix voting. They want to fix gerrymandering. They want to fix ethics. They want to protect the ballot box and protect us from foreign interference and disinformation. And they want to push back the influence of big money and special interests.
“They want a system of funding campaigns that’s based on matching funds – that’s actually paid for with a surcharge on high-end tax cheats and industry lawbreakers, because the people that are breaking our democracy by leaning on it with their lobbyists and their campaign contributions should be the ones that pay to fix the democracy.
“Now, we know that McConnell is standing against the will of the American people because we see those polls. We know he’s standing with his arms folded at the gates of the democracy saying to the American people, ‘You shall not pass.’ We know it from the polling. But we know it, more importantly, from the class that came in 2018, because all across this country, reformers ran on the message of fighting corruption and fixing democracy, and they said they pledged that the first thing they would do if they got here is to get this onto the floor and pass it – and they followed through on that promise.
“It is McConnell who is standing in the way of us delivering completely on the promise to the American people that we will lift up their voices, that no longer will they be left out and locked out of their own democracy – which is why we’re going to hear in a moment from two members of the freshman class who carried that banner in here, followed through on that promise and have brought us to this point where we can continue the fight and say to McConnell, ‘Please do the right thing.’
“On the Senate side, one of the leaders of this effort – the person who introduced the companion bill, pulled his colleagues together in support of H.R. 1 and has been a leader on reform from Day One – Senator Udall. And it’s my pleasure to turn it over to him now.”
See here for a video of the full press event.
Congressman Sarbanes also delivered a speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives today, underscoring the urgent need for Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans to hold a vote on H.R. 1.
See below for a video and transcript of the floor speech.
“One year ago, almost today, this House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, the For the People Act – a transformative anti-corruption and clean elections bill that would give people their voice back in their own democracy.
“It would fix gerrymandering. It would fix voting. It would fix ethics. It would protect the ballot box. It would push back against foreign interference and foreign disinformation coming into our campaigns. And it would lift up the voice of average Americans in competing with big money and lobbyists here in Washington. It would change the status quo, so every American would feel that their voice counts here, that their opinion matters, and that that’s how we make policy.
“Unfortunately, Mitch McConnell – the Majority Leader in the United States Senate – has refused to bring H.R. 1 to the floor of the United States Senate. One whole year of folding his arms at the gates of American democracy and saying to the American people, ‘You shall not pass.’
“Well, we’re not going to be deterred, we’re not gonna to be diverted and we’re not gonna to be defeated. We’re gonna keep pressing on to pass H.R. 1 for the people and restore the voices of the American people.”
For more information about H.R. 1, see here.