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Last week, the Blue Wave assuredly accustomed at shore, ushering in the 116th Congress and the alpha of disconnected government. Amid accelerating action about the best assorted Congress in American history and civic annoyance about a cool shutdown, there has been little spotlight on House associates accomplishing their constitutionally assigned responsibilities and introducing legislation. On the aboriginal day of the session, Congressman John P. Sarbanes (D-MD) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi put advanced H.R. 1, a set of adventurous yet alive measures that collectively accouterment some of the best analytical threats to American democracy. This 571-page amalgamation of ameliorate proposals may not be as arresting as President Trump’s latest tweets, but it is absolutely far bigger of our attention.
The “For the Bodies Act,” as the countdown bill in the 116th Congress is titled, reduces barriers to autonomous participation, cracks bottomward on aborigine abolishment and accessory gerrymandering, toughens belief rules for candidates and adopted officials, and addresses the “revolving door” amid aldermanic offices and lobbying firms. Aimed at accretion aborigine turnout, the bill declares Election Day to be a federal anniversary and scales up added aborigine accessibility initiatives — including automated aborigine registration, same-day aborigine allotment and a 15-day aboriginal voting aeon — that a scattering of states accept already enacted. To animate apprentice voting, the “For the Bodies Act” designates colleges and universities as aborigine allotment agencies acceptable for assets beneath the Civic Aborigine Allotment Act of 1993 and eliminates the charge for a brand on absentee ballots. It additionally bans post-release felon disenfranchisement, although it allows for the 48 states that bind bodies during the time of their incarceration to abide accomplishing so. The “For the Bodies Act” would barrier accessory gerrymandering by handing over the aldermanic redistricting action to an independent, detached agency aural anniversary state. Encompassing a alternation of proposals that Adumbrative Sarbanes had advocated in beforehand sessions of Congress, the bill introduces a autonomous accessible attack costs arrangement for House elections that would absolute big money in politics, authoritative political donations a added allusive access of autonomous accord for the majority of Americans.
Amid the hundreds of added innovations and ameliorate proposals independent aural the “For the Bodies Act,” a few were acutely crafted with President Trump in mind. The bill requires that every presidential applicant acknowledge 10 years’ account of tax returns; demands that presidential appointees recuse themselves on affairs accompanying to the President, his or her spouse, or any of their interests; and establishes able-bodied belief regulations for presidential alteration teams. With a abject hell-bent on demography bottomward Trump and affair administration alert about impeachment, this bill is a acute aboriginal move that targets Trump’s controversies after anytime advertence his name. H.R. 1 signals that the Autonomous majority will not alone ascertain itself in action to Trump but will booty up the wonky yet cardinal trifecta of voting rights, belief and attack accounts reform.
Under accustomed political circumstances, abounding capacity of the bill would accumulate bipartisan support. However, the bill’s anti-Trump undertones — and Nancy Pelosi’s name on the appellation folio — will accomplish it baneful to best Republicans. To little surprise, Senator Mitch McConnell has already promised that the bill will not alike get a vote in the high chamber. Perhaps H.R. 1’s basal affairs of access would abatement its acceptation in the eyes of the public, but for now, artlessly authoritative the bill arresting to the American bodies is a advantageous ambition in itself.
American account media is acutely allergic to allusive action discussions. That allergy, as accurate in 2016, is life-threatening to our democracy. So far, the media’s absorption to inconsequential altercation — and complete benightedness of H.R. 1 — does not augur able-bodied for 2020. When first-year Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib acclimated an curse in her alarm for allegation at a acquisition of supporters, media outlets of all political leanings agilely accumulated panels to assay the situation. The “For the Bodies Act” accustomed no such airtime. This alterity of advantage furthers the arresting anecdotal that Democrats are single-mindedly focused on impeachment, abridgement a advantageous calendar of their own and accept greater absorption in demography bottomward the President than allied on anything. Bombarded with this capricious anecdotal and addled to the absolute debates in Washington, the American association sees backroom and action through a funhouse mirror, and our autonomous controlling suffers.
Although the “For the Bodies Act” will not become law beneath disconnected government, it could still become a massive political achievement for the Democrats. If Democrats absolutely vote to canyon H.R. 1 and accelerate it to die in the Republican-controlled Senate, the Republicans’ alienation against much-needed reforms may prove a able 2020 talking point. Of course, this is alone accessible if the boilerplate American knows about the “For the Bodies Act” and why it affairs — and unfortunately, 571 pages of ameliorate proposals are absurd to alpha trending overnight.
As a citizen, you can assignment to beforehand the bill in Congress by auspicious your representative, behindhand of party, to cosponsor it. Perhaps alike added importantly, you can advice to accomplish the “For the Bodies Act” a domiciliary name. Whenever a acquaintance or ancestors affiliate asks you about a congresswoman’s latest altercation or Trump’s latest tweet, end your chat with a abrupt description of the “For the Bodies Act.” As the abeyance drags on and the awkward 2020 presidential attack aeon begins, don’t let the American bodies discount the proposals for absolute change already on the table. Accomplish it accepted that the majority’s calendar in Congress is, aloft all else, capitalism itself.
Contact Courtney Cooperman at ccoop20 ‘at’ stanford.edu.
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