Louisiana's delegation in the U.S. House took a 5-1 party-line vote on sweeping legislation that aims to overhaul voting rights, campaign finance and government ethics laws on Friday, with Republicans dismissing the Democrat-priority HR1 as a politician-serving federal overreach.
The “For the People Act” passed the House on a 234 to 193 vote, with U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, a New Orleans, as the sole "yes" vote from Louisiana. Richmond is the only Democratic member of the state's congressional Delegation.
HR1 is largely seen as a political maneuver heading into the 2020 elections, as the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate is unlikely to take it up, but it prompted harsh criticism from Louisiana Republicans. In campaigning to win control of the House, Democrats had vowed to push an ethics overhaul in the nation's Capitol.
Republican members of the Louisiana delegation, including U.S. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, of Jefferson, blasted the proposal.
“Many have called it the 'For the Politicians' act," Scalise said.
HR1 calls for the federal law to create new oversight in areas that currently fall under states, including making voter registration easier, ensuring felons regain voting rights after their sentences are completed and establishing new redistricting guidelines. On the federal level, it would place new restrictions on lobbying, campaign finance and ethics disclosures, among other provisions.
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Scalise took particular issue with a provision that would create a new federal match for House members who pledge to only take small-dollar campaign contributions.
"Most Americans are hard working. They don't want to see their taxpayer dollars going to a politician they strongly disagree with," Scalise said on the House floor Friday. "If someone wants to contribute, that's their prerogative but no one should be forced to give billions of dollars in taxpayer money by coercion."
Democrats who support the legislation have defended it as good government legislation.
"The For the People Act will help combat corruption and bring ethics and accountability back to our political process," said U.S. Rep. Mark Takano, D-California. "For far too long, powerful interests and big money in politics have silenced the interests of the American people.”
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Other Republican members of the Louisiana delegation also released statements explaining their votes against the bill, including U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, of Alto, who is currently running for governor and slammed the proposal as the "Democrat Politician Protection Act."
"It allows the federal government to seize control of the states’ right to conduct elections, dismantles First Amendment protections for political free speech, and subsidizes liberal political campaigns with millions of tax dollars," he said. "This bill is a slap in the face to our Founders’ ideals, the soldiers who fought for those ideals, and the American people who still value the wisdom of our Constitution."
U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins, of Port Barre, described the bill as "socialist."
"The monstrosity of a bill increases the likelihood for voter fraud, abridges free speech, expands government bureaucracies, and creates taxpayer-funded political campaigns," he said.
Voting in favor of HR1: Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans.
Voting against HR1: Reps. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, Ralph Abraham, R-Alto, Mike Johnson, R-Shreveport, Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge, and Clay Higgins, R-Port Barre.