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House Democrats are set to unveil first legislation for new Congress, with a focus on voting rights

After an election marked by voting rights issues, Democrats are prioritizing ballot access.

Nancy Pelosi and a group of House Democrats will unveil H.R. 1 Friday, highlighting the new Congress's priorities. (PHOTO CREDIT: Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Nancy Pelosi and a group of House Democrats will unveil H.R. 1 Friday, highlighting the new Congress's priorities. (PHOTO CREDIT: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

House Democrats are set to unveil their first piece of legislation for the newly elected Congress, a bill they’re symbolically calling H.R. 1, that aims to expand voting access.

After an election marked in large part by voting rights issues, including Stacey Abrams’ refusal to concede in the Georgia gubernatorial race and the passage of Amendment 4 in Florida, which expanded voting rights to more than 1 million ex-felons, the House Democrats’ first bill reportedly creates a national voter registration system and would expand access to early online voter registration.

According to The Washington Post, Democrats will unveil the bill Friday. In addition to the focus on voting rights, the bill would also reportedly create new donor disclosure requirements for political organizations and provisions for public financing for elections, including a system that would multiply small dollar donations to campaigns.

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The Post also reported that it would end most first-class travel for federal officials and mandate a new ethical code for the Supreme Court, though the outlet did not report details about what the code would include.

Finally, the bill would include a requirement that presidents release their tax returns, something President Trump has refused to do.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), whom Democrats nominated to be the next Speaker earlier this week, will unveil the legislation along with Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD), the bill’s principal author, Friday, according to the Post. They will reportedly be joined by several members of the freshman class.

“During the campaign, Democrats declared unequivocally that we would clean up corruption to make Washington work for the people. We pledged to reduce the role of money in politics, to restore ethics and integrity to government, and to strengthen voting laws,” Pelosi and Sarbanes wrote in an op-ed Sunday. “We now have our marching orders. The new Democratic House is ready to deliver with H.R. 1: a bold reform package to restore the promise of our democracy — a government of, by and for the people.”

Before Election Day, a number of advocacy groups including Planned Parenthood and Indivisible called for Democrats to make an overhaul bill like H.R. 1 their top priority, should they take back the House.

“Opportunities from major political reforms do not come along very often,” Fred Wertheimer, leader of Democracy 21, a good-government nonprofit organization, told the Post in October. “However, with a broken political system, a corrupt campaign finance system and a scandal-ridden Washington, today the stage is set for major reforms.”

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The legislation will likely face an uphill battle in the Senate, after Republicans maintained control of the chamber, picking up two seats.

CORRECTION: Due to an error in the initial information shared by House Democrats, the original version of this story said the bill would expand online voting access. It will actually expand online voter access.