The For the People Act of 2021 (H.R. 1) passed the House of Representatives on March 3, 2021. footnote1_9j13bah 1 This guide currently reflects the version of the bill that passed the House of Representatives in March. The Senate version of the bill, which has been designated S. 1 and tracks closely to the House’s language, was introduced on March 17, 2021. A previous version of the bill passed the House of Representatives in the 116th Congress on March 8, 2019, by a vote of 234 to 193 (the previous Senate version, S. 949, was cosponsored by all 45 Senate Democrats and both Independents). Across 10 titles, this historic legislation would make it easier to vote in federal elections, end congressional gerrymandering, overhaul federal campaign finance laws, increase safeguards against foreign interference, strengthen government ethics rules, and more. Most of these reforms would be implemented for the November 2022 general election, with the exception of some redistricting and public financing changes that would go into effect later. This explainer provides details about each title and subtitle of the bill as passed by the House, as well as information about related legislation and pertinent Brennan Center research on the issues that the bill seeks to address.
- Title I: Modernizing Voter Registration, Restoring Voting Rights, Protecting the Ballot
- Title II: Restoring the Voting Rights Act, DC and Territorial Voting Rights, Ending Gerrymandering
- Title III: Election Security
- Title IV: Campaign Transparency, Countering Foreign Interference
- Title V: Empowering Small Donors and Related Reforms
- Title VI: Enforcing Campaign Finance Laws, Strengthening Campaign Contribution Limits
- Title VII: Supreme Court Ethics Reform, Expanding Lobbyist Disclosure, FARA Reform, Recusal of Presidential Appointees
- Title VIII: Executive Branch Ethics Reforms
- Title IX: Congressional Ethics Reforms
- Title X: Disclosure of Presidential Tax Returns
Background & Summary of Key Changes:
This section affirms Congress’ power to protect the right to vote, regulate federal elections, and defend the democratic process in the United States. It notes that the Constitution gives Congress broad authority to regulate congressional elections, a power that the Supreme Court has recently affirmed, as well as the power to guarantee a republican form of government in the states and the power to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment which protects the right to vote. It also emphasizes that both the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments give Congress the power to eliminate racial discrimination in voting and the democratic process, which persists in areas like voting restrictions, redistricting, access to the polls, and felony disenfranchisement.
Background and Summary of Key Changes:
This section provides that any challenge to the constitutionality of any provision of H.R. 1 shall be filed in or transferred to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. That court, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and the Supreme Court are tasked to expedite such litigation to the greatest possible extent. Any member of the House of Representatives or the Senate will have the right to intervene in any such case.