Chairperson Zoe Lofgren Opening Remarks at Hearing on American Democracy

Feb 14, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC- Committee on House Administration Chairperson Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), issued the following statement at today’s hearing: “For the People: Our American Democracy.”

Committee on House Administration Chairperson Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.)

Opening Remarks: "For the People: Our American Democracy"

“Good morning, and we welcome our witnesses and members. I’d like to bring the Committee on House Administration to order and thank everyone in attendance.

“Just a few housekeeping matters – we do have the funeral of our former colleague John Dingell this morning, and so we are going to have panel one prior to that and we will reconvene around 1 o’clock for the second panel.

“I’ll just say that I am pleased that we are having this hearing on “For the People: Our American Democracy.” We have a distinguished group of witnesses who will share their insights and experiences.

“Before we hear from them and from our Ranking Member, I would be remiss if I did not thank Congressman John Sarbanes for the tremendous effort that he has made over the years for H.R. 1 that is before us.

“As we know, trust in Government is at a low point, we have many challenges that we have to work on together. One thing is that everyone in this country has a stake in how our country works and the way they express that is through their vote and deciding who their government will be.

“The mechanics of our democracy—access to voting, running for office, holding government accountable—have all undergone radical changes in recent years. These changes have tended to restrict the rights of eligible voters to vote. It has made the voices of the wealthy and powerful so loud that they can drown out the voices of ordinary people, our neighbors and our communities.

“Cutbacks to early voting, shutting down polling places, and purging eligible voters from the rolls all put barriers to participation to our elections and certainly we have issues with technical matters relative to voting and voting machines.

“There is hope that we can work to restore our democratic promise and H.R. 1 is the beginning of that.

“Ultimately, if we are to address the problems that we face tomorrow, and in the years and decades ahead, it is essential that our democracy works and the voices of all of our citizens, rich and poor, young and old are heard and heard equally. The promise of our democracy is indeed For the People.

“So I look forward to our time this morning, and I would now like to recognize Ranking Member Davis for any statement he may have.”

Background:

As the first item of legislation in the 116th Congress, 226 House Democrats introduced H.R. 1, the For the People Act, a sweeping package of reforms to restore confidence in our democracy by reducing the role of money in politics, restoring ethical standards and integrity for government, and strengthening laws to protect voting.

Issues referred to the Committee on House Administration include:

Making it Easier, Not Harder, To Vote

  • Improving Access– H.R. 1 expands access to the ballot box by taking aim at institutional barriers to voting. Patchwork and cumbersome registration systems, disenfranchisement and limited voting hours are roadblocks to a more participatory democracy. H.R. 1 will create automatic voter registration across the country, expand early voting and simplify absentee voting, designate election day a federal holiday, and modernize the U.S. voting system.
  • Promote Election Integrity – H.R. 1 prohibits voter roll purges like those seen in Ohio, Georgia and elsewhere.
  • Ensure Security – H.R. 1 ensures that American elections are decided by American voters without interference by enhancing federal support for voting system security, particularly paper ballots and increasing oversight over election vendors.

End the Dominance of Big Money in Our Politics

  • Guarantee Disclosure – H.R. 1 shines a light on dark money in politics by upgrading online political ad disclosure and requiring all organizations involved in political activities to disclosure their large donors.
  • Empower Citizens – H.R.1 gives political power to everyday Americans, creating a multiple-matching system for small donations, thereby allowing the American people to exercise their due influence in our politics. This new, 21st century system of citizen-owned elections will break special interests’ stranglehold on Congress and lay the groundwork for an agenda that serves the American people.
  • Strengthen Oversight – H.R. 1 ensures that there are cops on the campaign finance beat who will enforce the laws on the books. H.R. 1 tightens rules on super PACs and restructures the Federal Election Commission to break the gridlock and enhance its enforcement mechanisms. It also repeals Mitch McConnell’s riders that prevent government agencies from requiring common sense disclosure of political spending.

Ensure Public Officials Work for the Public Interest

  • Fortify Ethics Law – H.R. 1 breaks the influence economy in Washington and increases accountability by expanding conflict of interest law and divestment requirements, slowing the revolving door, and preventing Members of Congress from serving on corporate boards.

For a section-by-section of H.R.1, see here.

For H.R. 1 bill text, see here.

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Congress Number: 
116th Congress