Senate Republicans blocked an effort by U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) to pass S. 949, the For the People Act, a historic reform package to clean up corruption in Washington, 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.
In March, Udall, Merkley and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) led all 47 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus in introducing S. 949, the Senate companion to H.R. 1, a bill authored by Democracy Reform Task Force Chair Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.). H.R. 1 passed the U.S. House of Representatives on March 8.
“If Mitch McConnell wants to be the immovable object and refuse to bring H.R. 1 to the Senate floor for a vote, then he’ll have a political price to pay,” said Sarbanes, who chairs the Democracy Reform Task Force and authored H.R. 1, the For the People Act. “Americans of all political stripes are fed up with the status quo in Washington. They’re tired of a system where wealthy donors and corporate special interests write the checks and call the shots. They’re hungry for the unstoppable force of H.R. 1 – a suite of empowering reforms that will clean up corruption in Washington, crack down on lobbyists, secure our elections, ensure the right to vote and return power back to the people.”
“Today, Senate Republicans blocked urgent reforms to protect, secure and strengthen our democracy and elections. They showed us whose side they are on,” Udall said. “The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the For the People Act, H.R. 1, in March. At that same time, we introduced the Senate Companion to the For the People Act – which has the support of all 47 Democrats and Independents in the Senate. But Leader McConnell has buried the For the People Act – designed to restore our democracy – alongside a pile of other bills that would benefit all Americans. At a time when dark money and foreign interference are threatening our elections, the For the People Act repairs our broken campaign finance system, opens up the ballot box to all Americans and lays waste to the corruption in Washington. These are all reforms that the American people support. Why won’t the Senate Majority Leader let us vote on them? I will not stop fighting for comprehensive democratic reform – for bringing power back to the people, where the founders intended it to be. Our democracy will always be worth the fight.”
“The United States Senate used to debate issues of war and peace, civil rights and international treaties – crafting bills, offering amendments and voting on behalf of the American people who elected us. But under Mitch McConnell’s leadership, the Senate is a graveyard of good ideas and potential legislation,” said Merkley. “That means critical legislation like the For the People Act – which would take on corruption and put the power of our government back in the hands of the people, where it belongs – is left at a permanent standstill without a vote. The American people are sick of the gridlock and inaction from Congress. It’s time for us to stand up, do our jobs and restore government by and for the people.”