House Democrats to Unveil Comprehensive Democracy Reform Bill

Voting rights, gerrymandering, and campaign finance reform will top Congress’s 2019 agenda. It's an important step toward fixing our broken system.

November 30, 2018

The incoming House leadership unveiled on Friday the outline for a sweeping bill that will include reforms for voting rights, campaign finance, and ethics for public officials.

Leading up to this month’s midterm elections, more than 100 House candidates called on Congress to make a government and election reform bill the first item on the agenda for the 2019 legislative session. Last week, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and the bill’s primary author Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) released preliminary details of the bill in a Washington Post op-ed. “We believe it will have great support,” Pelosi said at a press conference introducing the bill.

Sarbanes also acknowledged the strong voter support for the reform effort. "It's a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make a bold, proud declaration back to the American people that we get it, we hear you, we want to give you your voice back," he said.

The Brennan Center has long advocated for, and in some cases helped develop, many of the reforms in the bill — including automatic voter registration, early voting, and small donor public financing. The bill will also require Presidential disclosure of tax returns.

“This bill is a big deal. For the first time in decades, a house of Congress is poised to seriously address the urgent problems facing our democracy so that it can work for every American,” said Wendy Weiser, director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy program. “We are proud that the bill, as announced, will include bold and innovative reforms we pioneered, like automatic voter registration and small-donor public financing, among others.”

This legislation comes after a midterm election in which voters strongly supported a wide range of pro-democracy ballot initiatives, including on redistricting, voting, campaign finance, and ethics. 

“It is good to see Congress responding to voters and taking up their obligation to fix our democracy,” said Weiser. “It’s time to rein in big money in our politics, make voting less complicated for all Americans, stop gerrymandering, and make sure that our public officials work for all Americans.”

(Image: Alex Wong/Getty)