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Democrats want to send Message with HR 1

Rog Cogswell / Creative Commons

Virginia’s newly elected Democrats in Congress are hoping to re-write the rules for elections and campaign finance.

This week, Congress is set to vote on a sweeping overhaul of campaign finance and election law. Democrats call it the For the People Act, House Resolution One — a show of its importance to the new House leadership.

Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton of Northern Virginia says Democrats are following through on a campaign promise. “We all campaigned and ran on more transparency in government, less impact from big money and getting power back into to the hands of the people.”

The bill would create a new voluntary system of public financing for campaigns. It would also limit the ability of states to deny voting rights to felons and require states use independent commissions to design congressional districts.

“It’s almost like food stamps for politicians,” counters Congressman Denver Riggleman, a Republican from Central Virginia. “Why are we using taxpayer money to subsidize elections number one, number two why are we taking away from the states their ability to do their own elections? There’s about ten things in this bill that are so egregious — especially against states rights — that I would never vote for it from a constitutional basis.”

Democrats say this is one of their top priorities for the new Congress, although its fate is unclear in the Republican-controlled Senate. And President Trump has already announced a veto if it gets to his desk.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.