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S.1 Markup Recap: Democrats Vote For Partisan Power Grab Over American Elections

During last week’s markup of S.1, Democrats’ partisan proposal to rewrite election laws in all 50 states, Democrats on the Senate Rules Committee voted to spend public money on their

own campaigns, mutate the FEC into a partisan cudgel, police core political speech while supercharging political intimidation and cancel culture, and eviscerate state voter ID laws.

The Democrats’ latest version of S.1 is so bad we are forced to agree with the Senate’s RINO Minority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell, who remarked on the Senate Floor, “A one-party takeover of our political system. That’s what Senate Democrats brought to the Rules Committee [last week]. Their side’s top priority for multiple years now…. A partisan power-grab in search of a justification…. There’s no crisis. Our Democratic friends just want the power to re-wire our democracy on a partisan basis. S. 1 would take the Federal Election Commission, the bipartisan panel that regulates elections and private citizens’ speech, and make it a partisan body run by Democrats. It would let Washington Democrats act like a nationwide Board of Elections on steroids, neutering popular things like Voter I.D. ... This bill would let bureaucrats snoop around more in free speech… attack citizens’ privacy so dramatically that even the liberal ACLU is unhappy… and even send public funds directly to politicians! Republicans put forward amendments to fix these things. If Democrats had wanted real bipartisan solutions, Republicans were there, at the table, and ready. But Democrats voted us down. They wouldn’t even let us redirect that public money to the opioid crisis! They wanted that cash for their own campaigns. This partisan power grab failed to advance out of committee for the same reason it must never become law as written: It will shatter public confidence in our democracy if the Democratic Party decides it can rig the rules.”

During the debate Sen. Angus King (I-ME) asked “But how do you characterize this as a partisan power grab when no more than two out of the five [FEC commissioners] can be from the same party?”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) smacked down King saying, “And Senator King if I may address that question as well. I think Senator McConnell is absolutely right. It is not complicated for a partisan president to find three votes who are going to vote with him. You know I would note in the U.S. Senate there are two Senators, yourself and Senator Sanders, who are declared Independents, but who vote with the Democratic Party with such absolute predictability as to be entirely reliable. … And I would point out that that to take Senator Sanders, for example, I think it would be difficult for anyone to argue with a straight face that a Federal Election Commission that consisted of two explicit Democrats and Senator Sanders would not be a partisan weapon.”

Senator McConnell also stood tall on another issue important to conservatives, freedom of speech and association, saying, ““This bill is riddled with a variety of different efforts to give Washington D.C. more control and more power over the free speech of American citizens. Some of this is overt. S. 1 would give the newly-partisan FEC major new authorities to police the First Amendment speech of citizens and groups, far above and beyond the regulations that are already in place. A lot more speech would get swept under the feds’ umbrella. There are also efforts to chill free speech that are more indirect, but still sinister. Our nation has a long and important history with the subject of associational privacy. The idea is that Americans are free to form private groups around their interests and values — and neither nosy neighbors nor nosy bureaucrats are entitled to know who believes what unless individuals choose to go public. In 1958, the NAACP took this issue all the way to the Supreme Court and won a landmark case against the state of Alabama. More than 60 years ago, folks understood that when the government tries to force private organizations to publicize their supporters, the First Amendment is the biggest loser. Our current, hyper-politicized climate is the last time we can afford to forget these lessons. In a world where Americans with unfashionable views are subjected to online harassment… where strangers come after people’s employment for expressing views… the same privacy rights that the NAACP fought for 60 years ago remain paramount. That’s why my First Amendment and privacy concerns with so many parts of this bill have been echoed by folks that might surprise you. In a recent Washington Post op-ed, lawyers from the liberal American Civil Liberties Union warned that aspects of the bill before us ‘could directly interfere with the ability of many to engage in political speech about causes that they care about and that impact their lives…’.”

Republican Senator Bill Hagerty of Tennessee also stood tall in the debate about the creation of a new Democrat-controlled federal commission created to draw Congressional Districts, saying, “My amendment would instead keep democratically elected state representatives in charge ... I’m concerned that Democrat members of the unelected redistricting commissions that are embedded in this bill, who are charged with drawing Congressional districts under the bill, would simply object to a map that isn’t gerrymandered in the most favorable way to Democrats. That would then deadlock the commission process and punt it to the court system. Specifically, it would punt it to a court in Washington, D.C. that is specifically charged with drawing all of these maps. So the result then would be an unelected judge in Washington, D.C., or a D.C. consultant that the judge is specifically allowed to appoint to draw the maps under this bill. They’d be the ones in charge of drawing Congressional districts in every state in the country instead of using a democratic state-specific process that has been in existence for the entirety of American history. Why is that? Why did Democrats want this? Because they think this will lead to a gerrymandered map, again, in their favor, again, underscoring the fact that this is a massive power grab embedded in this bill.”

S.1 and its House iteration H.R.1 are completely Un-American and antithetical to federalism and the constitutional values of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Call the toll-free Capitol Switchboard (1-866-220-0044), tell your Senators you cherish and rely on their right to speak freely about political campaigns and issues; tell them you demand they oppose H.R. 1 and S. 1 and the creation of “speech czars” to police political speech and a new DC-based bureaucracy to draw congressional districts in your state.

  • H.R. 1

  • S. 1

  • First Amendment

  • Free Speech

  • Political Speech

  • Donor lists

  • Charities

  • NAACP v. Alabama

  • Nonprofit organizations

  • Online advertising

  • For the People Act

  • Mail-in voting

  • Voter ID

  • Voter integrity

  • Speech regulation

  • intimidation

  • redistricting

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