Government affairs

Legislative Updates

House Committees Continue Consideration of H.R. 1

The House Committee on House Administration met today to markup the “For the People Act of 2019” (H.R. 1), the House Democrats’ sweeping legislation that looks to reform voting rights, campaign finance reform, lobbying, and government ethics, among others. The bill is mostly a symbolic display of Democratic priorities in the 116th Congress as the bill is unlikely to ever become law due to Republican control of the Senate and White House. Nonetheless, as the first bill offered by House Democratic leadership in the 116th, it is their top priority. 

Of the many measures included in the bill and among others, the markup considered a number of amendments including addressing automatic voter registration which could add up to 50 million new voters to the polls and granting same day voter registration. The bill also includes provisions on voter purging, early voting, and the use of voter verified paper ballots. Of particular importance to letter carriers, language expanding no-excuse absentee voting (often referred to as vote-by-mail) is also included.

During consideration, numerous amendments were offered and rejected along party lines, including an attempt to strike expanded vote-by-mail provisions over concerns of potential fraud.

The expressed concern from Republican members with this section was around the use of signature verification, with Ranking Member Rodney Davis (R-IL) noting that this requirement would pre-empt state voter identification law and that it might not be the most secure means of confirming one’s identity. Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA) took time to support the use of signature verification, pointing out that in states that allow vote-by-mail, signatures are often required to be updated with time to ensure they are an accurate representation of the voter. The language of the amendment was not limited to striking the signature verification measure alone, but rather the entire expansion of vote-by-mail as well and ended up being rejected.

In the end, the bill was ordered to be reported as amended in a 6-3 party line vote. As H.R. 1 has been referred to several committees, it will continue to progress slowly through the House.  NALC continues to have concerns regarding funding of the vote-by-mail provisions and will be sure to keep letter carriers informed of any updates.

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