As every new Congress convenes, the majority party signals its priority with the introduction of House Resolution One. H.R. 1 is the bill the leadership intends to push hard and early to let the public know just what the new Congress wants and is all about.
Past House majorities, Republican and Democrat alike, have used their first bill to emphasize a substantive policy issue like the budget, educational reform, government action to stimulate the economy following the 2008 recession, tax cuts, or measures to counter terrorism.
This year, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats are focused not on such substantive issues, but on jiggering with the way the country has run its elections for 200 years. All politicians relish their ability to exercise the power at their disposal, but this year’s H.R. 1 is all about increasing the Democratic Party’s chances of holding onto power.
The 116th Congress’ H.R. 1 is being heralded as the “For the People Act of 2019,” but if there were truth in labelling requirements for naming bills it would have to be called the “For the Democrats Act of 2019.” It is a 500-plus page jumble of proposals to mandate a federal takeover of our electoral system and rig future elections with an eye toward a one-party nation.
Many of the components of H.R. 1 have been tested and worked for Democrats in California. These “reforms” would force all states to emulate California and turn future elections into the sort of sham contests one sees in some nations south of the U.S. border.
Under H.R. 1 Washington would run ballot security and voter registration which would be “automatic” for anyone seventeen or older. States would no longer be authorized to clean up their voter rolls even as evidence pours in that voter fraud is more prevalent than most thought with tens of thousands of ineligible voters actually voting in dozens of states. A new Election Assistance Commission and the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice would duke it out on who does what.
The proposal abolishes all existing state voter identification laws. Americans citizens — and possibly even non-citizens living in the United States — would be automatically registered to vote when they turn 17 years old. If any are somehow missed, another part of the bill would set up registration and voting booths on college and university campuses. Felons would be granted the right to vote and any voter who votes wants to vote somewhere other than his or her home precinct will be allowed to cast a provisional ballot anywhere else.
Past House speakers of both parties used earmarks and the like to channel funds to vulnerable incumbents of their own party while often denying opponents the ability to help the folks back home. Politicians, being human, did this to maximize their party’s prospects in the next election.
Such shenanigans didn’t always work, however, so today’s Democrats have decided to simply change the rules of the game. They may high-mindedly believe they are doing so to save the republic from evil Republicans and their deplorable supporters as they propose to remake the American electoral system for their own benefit while cloaking their cynical attempt to jigger the rules in the rhetoric of fairness, openness and democracy.
This effort is an outgrowth of the Democratic narrative that any Republican who wins an election is a cheater, a racist, or suppressed the vote. When a Republican wins, he or she is condemned as illegitimate, and that includes everyone from Republican Presidents like George W. Bush and Donald Trump to Republican governors and local officials.
Stacey Abrams, the Georgia Democratic gubernatorial loser chosen to deliver the Democratic response to the State of the Union, refused to concede defeat because she claimed Republicans cheated her out of a victory and can be expected to highlight H.R. 1 in her remarks.
Hearings on H.R. 1 began last week and Speaker Pelosi wants it passed as soon as possible. It will pass the House, but Senate. Republican leader Mitch McConnell has already pledged to kill it. That won’t be the end, however, as Democrats can be expected break the bill up and work to begin pass it piecemeal as Democrats believe changing the rules will keep them in power for a generation. By making H.R. 1 their top priority they are admitting that is their first and perhaps only priority.
• David A. Keene is an editor at large for The Washington Times.