By a vote of 220 to 210, Congressional Democrats passed H.R. 1, referred to as the “For the People Act,” that looks to make major changes to elections processes and campaign financing on the state and federal levels.
The legislation is targeted primarily at election reform and is similar to the bill by the same name introduced in the 116th Congress. The difference between then and now is that now Democrats also control the U.S. Senate, giving this legislation life it did not have last Congress.
Mississippi’s three Republican Congressman – Trent Kelly (MS-1), Michael Guest (MS-3) and Steven Palazzo (MS-4) – all opposed the measure while the state’s lone Democrat Congressman Bennie Thompson also opposed its passage.
MS Rep Bennie Thompson,the only Democrat to vote No on his party's election reform bill,HR1:"My constituents opposed the redistricting portion of the bill as well as the section on public finances.I always listen & vote in the interest of my constituents.”https://t.co/cnMuGMXbYY
— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) March 4, 2021
In a statement released by Congressman Guest following the bill’s passage, the Republican says what the Democrats have proposed in this action is subsidizing divisive campaign ads across the nation, calling it the “For the Politicians Act.”
“Free speech and fair elections are the bedrock of our Republic, but this bill targets those ideals as hostile. It reforms the Federal Election Commission in a way that would grant a small, partisan group the ability to limit free speech,” Guest said. “This bill also repurposes public funding dollars to support attack ads by matching political donations with Federal funds. As Americans call for a reduction in divisive political rhetoric, Democrats have proposed subsidizing divisive campaign ads across the nation.”
Guest went on to say that what is best for California and New York is not always best for the rest of the country.
“The designers of our great Republic understood this reality when they created our Constitution. Article I, Section 4 of the Constitution gives states— not Congress, not the Executive Branch, not the judiciary—the authority over elections,” Guest said.
Many conservatives see H.R. 1 as a federal takeover of elections, saying it undermines the integrity of elections by codifying many of the voting changes implemented during the pandemic, such as mail-in voting and the loosening of absentee voting parameters which could lead to ballot harvesting and voter fraud.
Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson spoke on H.R. 1 on Wednesday, calling it “terrible and scary for our state.” Watson noted that the legislation would restrict Voter ID in federal elections, allow same day voter registration and universal mail-in voting.
Secretary of State @MichaelWatsonMS talks about the harmful impact HR 1 #ForThePeopleAct in Congress could have on Mississippi and why #msleg needs to pass voter integrity bills. pic.twitter.com/UvoZ4DpRSX
— Yall Politics (@MSyallpolitics) March 3, 2021
Y’all Politics called attention to this measure in January. Read more about how it could impact Mississippi elections here.