STATEMENT: Senate Takes Up Sweeping Democracy Reform To Return Power to the People

Washington, D.C. — Today, Democrats in the U.S. Senate introduced S. 1, the For the People Act of 2021, with overwhelming support across the caucus. The introduction of this once-in-a-generation legislative package comes on the heels of passage in the U.S. House of Representatives two weeks ago in a decisive vote. This transformative legislation would strengthen voting rights to empower American voters, reduce big money and dark money in politics, and impose stronger ethics restrictions on public officials. It begins its Senate journey as Republican legislatures around the nation have filed more than 250 voter suppression bills, largely aimed at Black and brown communities.

The Center for American Progress has long advocated for pro-voter and anti-corruption policies and has been a leading member of the Declaration for American Democracy—a diverse coalition of more than 170 organizations representing tens of millions of Americans in demanding strong, clear solutions to make U.S. democracy more representative of everyday Americans.

The For the People Act contains hundreds of policies designed to curb voter suppression, gerrymandering, and the dominance of special interests in the political system. Many of these policies are built on a bipartisan foundation. The legislation would take steps to give Americans far more options to vote safely and securely; create a small-donor matching system that would reduce the power of wealthy, special interests; shine a bright light on secret money and foreign money in U.S. elections; and impose far tighter ethical restrictions on presidents, including by requiring them to disclose copies of their tax returns.

President Joe Biden has urged Congress to pass this transformative legislation and said that he wants to sign it into law. It will make its way through the Senate under the leadership of Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY); the bill’s primary sponsor, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR); and Senate Rules Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who will preside over the Senate’s first hearing on this legislation.

Following introduction of the legislation, Will Roberts, acting vice president of Democracy and Government Reform at CAP, issued the following statement:

Our democracy is in serious danger after the former president’s blatant lies about the election outcome, the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol that aimed to stop the peaceful transition of presidential power, and hundreds of voter suppression bills currently being considered in state legislatures nationwide. Today, Senate Democrats took a giant step forward to meet these threats and strengthen our democracy with the introduction of the For the People Act, S. 1, after its House passage two weeks ago. This transformative reform package will help ensure that all Americans, including in communities of color, are empowered to fully participate in our democracy—and that Congress can finally unblock progress on policies that Americans care about, such as well-paying jobs, clean air and water, and racial justice.

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