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Press Release

House Passes the For the People Act; Brennan Center Reacts

Michael Waldman calls it “the most significant democracy reform legislation in at least half a century … the next great civil rights bill”

March 3, 2021
Contact: Rebecca Autrey, Media Contact, rebecca.autrey@nyu.edu, 202-753-5904

Tonight the House of Repres­ent­at­ives passed the For the People Act (H.R. 1), which includes reforms to voting, redis­trict­ing, campaign finance, and govern­ment ethics. The Bren­nan Center for Justice at NYU Law helped develop many of the bill’s policies – includ­ing auto­matic voter regis­tra­tion, the restor­a­tion of voting rights to people with past crim­inal convic­tions, redis­trict­ing reform, and small donor public finan­cing.

Michael Wald­man, pres­id­ent of the Bren­nan Center for Justice, had this reac­tion: 

“Tonight the House of Repres­ent­at­ives passed the most signi­fic­ant demo­cracy reform legis­la­tion in at least half a century. It is the next great civil rights bill.

“We all know that across the coun­try, Repub­lican legis­latures are racing to enact restric­tions on voting rights, the biggest wave of such restric­tions since the Jim Crow era. With the For the People Act, Congress can super­sede that wave of voter suppres­sion. The Senate must now play its part, and quickly, to make the For the People Act into law.

“The spate of state bills meant to shrink the elect­or­ate comes after an elec­tion where we saw the highest turnout from Amer­ican voters since 1900. The 2020 elec­tion broke these records despite the pandemic and despite Donald Trump’s campaign of voter suppres­sion aimed at Black and brown Amer­ic­ans and built on racist lies about voter fraud.

“This was a civic achieve­ment that involved Repub­lic­ans and Demo­crats, civil rights groups and busi­ness, and elec­tion offi­cials of both parties all across the coun­try. The For the People Act would ensure that the nation can hold onto the progress we made in enabling more voters to cast their ballots safely.

“Voting legis­la­tion in the states is only one front the battle for fair repres­ent­a­tion in our demo­cracy. The For the People Act would also bring an end to partisan gerry­man­der­ing. And at a time of contin­ued public anger and disgust over the role of extreme wealth in polit­ics, the For the People Act would enact small donor public finan­cing, the most signi­fic­ant response to Citizens United and the other damaging Supreme Court rulings on campaign finance.

“The For the People Act would ensure that the free­dom to be heard in govern­ment – whether as a constitu­ent, a voter, or a candid­ate – is the same for every­one, regard­less of race or wealth.

“The Bren­nan Center for Justice is grate­ful for the efforts of the spon­sors of the For the People Act, partic­u­larly Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. John Sarbanes, and Chair­per­son Zoe Lofgren, and for the support of the Biden/Harris admin­is­tra­tion. We look forward to continu­ing our work with the admin­is­tra­tion and the Senate to turn the for The People Act into law.”