The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Wednesday night to pass HR 1, known as the For the People Act. The broad legislation expands voting rights and provides a variety of democratic reforms.
Stacey Abrams, the founder of Fair Fight Action, was widely recognized for her voter turnout efforts in the 2020 presidential election and Georgia’s pivotal U.S. Senate race in January. She testified in favor of the bill.
The measure, Abrams said in a statement, lifts up democracy and tackles “the racist and systemic barriers intentionally built to exclude Black and brown voices.”
“Tellingly, this victory comes as 43 states have already introduced more than 250 bills to restrict or limit voting access this year,” Abrams said, citing examples such as HB 531 and SB 241 in Georgia. “Recently, counsel for the Arizona Republican Party admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court that out-of-precinct ballot disqualification rules (ie —those proposed by Georgia’s HB 531) were about preventing Republicans from being “at a competitive disadvantage relevant to Democrats.”
Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY), a freshman, voted for the bill. He noted that reforms are necessary in order to make meaningful progress on issues such as climate change, gun violence, housing and health care.
“This bill …ends partisan gerrymandering and creates independent redistricting commissions to ensure people are choosing their leaders, not the other way around,” he said. “It establishes automatic voter registration to extend the franchise to more than 50 million Americans. And it sets up a system of public financing for campaigns, so that working class candidates—people like me—can afford to run for office.”
Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-MD) is among the Congressional Black Caucus members who backed the measure.
“Across our country, we’re witnessing an all-out assault on voting rights. We won’t standby and allow our voters to be silenced and disenfranchised. We can no longer allow special interests, corporations, and wealthy donors to bankroll campaigns and sway elections.“
Ría Thompson-Washington is senior manager, voting rights & democracy at the Center for Popular Democracy.
“We applaud the leadership of House members who passed HR1,” she said in a statement. “The intensified attacks on voting rights in states like Arizona and Georgia drive home the importance of these federal protections and changes. We must make sure the politicians who rely on voter suppression to cling to power do not take us backward.” HR1 also sets the stage she said for restoring the Voting Rights Act (HR4) and establishing D.C. statehood (HR51).
In a statement from the White House, President Joe Biden praised Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the House for passing the measure.
“The right to vote is sacred and fundamental,” he said. “This landmark legislation is urgently needed to protect that right, to safeguard the integrity of our elections, and to repair and strengthen our democracy. It will rein in the outrageous gerrymandering that distorts our democracy. It will empower the Justice Department to crack down on laws that curtail voting rights along racial lines. It will reform our campaign finance system to amplify the voices of the people — not the powerful. And it will modernize and secure our future elections against all manner of threats.”
The bill moves to the Senate, where many Republican lawmakers have already indicated they will not support the legislation in its current form.
Biden said he looks “forward to working with Congress to refine and advance” the bill. “And I look forward to signing it into law after it has passed through the legislative process, so that together we can strengthen and restore American democracy for the next election and all those to come.”