Mar 14, 2019

The House was wrong to pass HR 1; the Senate should reject it

Post by Freedom Partners

The U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 1 on March 8. This should concern every American citizen who values the right to participate in civic life.

While there are some goals within this legislation that we support – like the restoration of voting rights for people convicted of felonies who have paid their debt to society – many of its provisions run counter to its stated goals. They’d make it harder for all Americans to engage on issues and causes they care about. In doing so, the so-called For the People Act would insulate Congress from criticism. It might better be named the For the Politicians Act.

“Our country is stronger when it’s easier for all voices to be heard. But H.R. 1 moves us in the opposite direction — making it harder for everyday Americans to engage on the issues they care about, and easier for politicians to shield themselves from criticism,” said Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips. “It is, therefore, disappointing to see the House pass this legislation which will only limit a vibrant public square.”

HR 1 has drawn opposition from a broad coalition, ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union to the Institute for Free Speech to the White House.

“H.R. 1 proposes an overreach of federal power that would violate constitutional principles of separation of powers, federalism, and freedom of speech,” according to a statement of administration policy from the Office of Management and Budget.

While the ACLU supports some aspects of the legislation, the organization wrote a letter to the House Rules Committee arguing that certain provisions would “unconstitutionally impinge” free speech and “[harm] our public discourse by silencing necessary voices that would otherwise speak out about the public issues of the day.”

Lawmakers should pursue alternatives that bolster democracy and promote, rather than inhibit, participation in a vibrant public square. Free speech and diverse voices are at the core of civic life, and indispensable to progress. HR 1 would threaten these foundational principles.

It’s now up to the Senate to stand fast and reject this dangerous bill. All Americans should be able to have their voices heard.