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BILL WATCH: FOR THE PEOPLE ACT OF 2021

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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and the Democratic Caucus gather to address reporters on H.R. 1, the For the People Act of 2021, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, March 3, 2021. AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite

On March 3rd, the United States House of Representatives voted to pass the For the People Act of 2021, a bill that hopes to address voter access and registration, election integrity, and ethics for public servants. The bill would implement anti-corruption measures to reinforce our democracy, a sweeping piece of legislature spanning nearly 800 pages.  

The bill — also known as H.R. 1 — was first introduced in 2019 and reintroduced on January 4th of this year by Representative John Sarbanes, D-Md. The For the People Act is the Democrat’s number one priority, as it is a reform bill hoping to curb voter suppression and the influence of money in politics.

Rep. John Sarbanes. AP Photo / Manuel Balce Ceneta

The public’s response to the For the People Act has been widely positive, with a poll from Data For Progress stating that 67 percent of Americans support the bill, 13 percent being unsure, and only 19 percent in opposition to the act. This poll also found that support was seen broadly across party lines with 56 percent of Republican voters in support and 68 percent of Independent voters in support.

Source: Data for Progress

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Hum­­­­an Rights has voiced their support of H.R. 1, sharing a letter on their webpage outlining their reasoning for support. Some of those reasons listed include their belief that the act will restore voting rights for formerly incarcerated people, reform voter registration and voter purging, and create a federal holiday for voting. The letter has been signed by over 50 national organizations.

While there is wide support for the act, there is criticism too, specifically from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In a letter penned on January 29 of this year, the ACLU urged lawmakers to hold hearings and make changes to the text. While the organization supports much of the progressive points within the For the People Act of 2021, it also addressed concerns that the act could face legal challenges if passed in its current state.

At this time, the For the People Act of 2021 does not have a scheduled date for a vote in the Senate but it is scheduled to be considered by the House Committee on Financial Services on March 24th. According to Skopos Labs, it is predicted that the act has an 86 percent chance of being enacted by congress.

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