|Davis's written remarks delivered during Committee on Rules consideration of H.R. 1:
H.R. 1 is a bill that would impact every American’s right to vote and to participate in the political process. This 791-page bill would impose hundreds of unworkable, unconstitutional election mandates on states, attack the First Amendment, and publicly fund congressional campaigns using corporate dollars. This bill is not for the people; this bill is for the politicians.
It’s opposed by 16 Secretaries of State, 9 former FEC commissioners, the National Disability Rights Network, the Institute of Free Speech, and more than 130 other non-profit organizations. My understanding is the ACLU opposed this bill last Congress and is expected to oppose it again this time.
The Republican members of the Committee on House Administration have submitted a total of 25 amendments here today. We’ve submitted these amendments because the majority decided not to go through regular order and deny the minority and many Americans a voice in this legislation. Not only did this bill not go through a markup, but our committee only held one hearing on this nearly 800-page bill. The hearing was four days ago. During the hearing, the Minority’s witness was the only person on the panel who has actually administered an election. He testified that H.R. 1 would not only be difficult for many states to implement but it would undermine many policies states are putting in place to improve the election process for the unique needs of their voters.
In 2020, we actually saw H.R. 1 play out. States, that were not accustomed to vote by mail, struggled to implement it. This led to chaos in elections throughout the country and weakened voter confidence in the process—a real threat to democracy. Hundreds of thousands of people were unintentionally disenfranchised, many ballot integrity safeguards were abandoned, and election results took weeks – and sometimes months – to determine. H.R. 1 makes “pandemic style” voting permanent.
We’re submitting amendments today to prevent what we saw in states like New York, California, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and others in 2020 from being the one-size-fits-all law of the land. In our system, diverse States with unique needs implement election law and administer elections, and we should not be in the business of nationalizing elections, let alone bad elections policy. We’ve submitted amendments to remove mandates like legalizing ballot harvesting, requiring vote by mail, same day registration, impossible early voting requirements, preventing state voter protection efforts, and others. I hope the committee will rule these amendments in order and not deny the minority any role in this bill.
If this bill were to become law, it would be the largest expansion of the federal government’s role in elections that we have ever seen before. Nationalizing our elections goes against Article 1, Section 4 of Constitution, which gives states the power to make election law and to administer elections, which includes developing and controlling their own registration and voting practices.
Not only does this bill violate Article 1, Section 4, but it infringes on the First Amendment. H.R. 1 imposes heavy-handed rules intended to severely restrict free speech. The bill would impose vague standards that disadvantage all groups who wish to advocate on behalf of any legislative issue, specifically requiring them to disclose the names of donors who donate above a certain threshold. It weaponizes the IRS by permitting the agency to investigate and consider the political and policy persuasions of organizations before granting tax-exempt status, taking us back to the ill-fated Lois Lerner years. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) will now be partisan. H.R. 1 altered the current bipartisan makeup of the six- member commission to a partisan five-member commission and establishes a “Speech Czar”, limiting free speech and creating a partisan commission with partisan enforcement priorities.
And after the bill attacks Americans’ free speech, it creates a public fund to directly contribute to congressional campaigns. H.R. 1 would launder corporate dollars through the Treasury and use those dollars to publicly fund congressional campaigns. Based on 2020 numbers, that creates access to more than $7 million in public funds to bolster my colleagues’ campaign coffers by providing a 6 to 1 funding match to small donations. I know when I speak with my constituents back home, establishing a program that helps me acquire more money for my campaign is not what they think the federal government should be working on. We’ve submitted amendments to not only strike this program and prevent sitting members of Congress from financially benefiting, but also require any increase in corporate fines to be used to help with pandemic relief. We believe helping our country through this pandemic is better use of this money than lining our own campaign coffers. I hope my colleagues will agree and rule these amendments in order.
Again, we’re offering these 25 amendments because Republicans have been shut out of the process and we believe this bill would have a negative impact on the American people’s ability to vote and participate in our political process. H.R. 1 includes election administration mandates that will be impossible for many states to implement, places restrictions on American’s First Amendment right guaranteeing freedom of speech, creates a public financing program to line the campaign coffers of members of Congress, and makes pandemic election law changes permanent. As it’s currently written, this bill is not for the American people, it’s for the benefit of the politicians.