US lawmakers from Virginia, NC react to passage of sweeping voting rights bill


WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 23 (Photo by Al Drago/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP/WAVY) — House Democrats late Wednesday approved sweeping voting and ethics legislation over unanimous Republican opposition, advancing to the Senate what would be the largest overhaul of the U.S. election law in at least a generation.

The bill was approved on a near party-line 220-210 vote.

It would restrict partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts, strike down hurdles to voting and bring transparency to a murky campaign finance system that allows wealthy donors to anonymously bankroll political causes.

Here are reactions from United States lawmakers in Virginia and North Carolina about the passage of the bill.

Congresswoman Elaine Luria (D-Va.)

“Keeping tax dollars out of political campaigns was an important clarification I sought to improve this legislation,” Congresswoman Luria said. “The For The People Act will strengthen our democratic institutions by improving access to the ballot box, securing our elections, and delivering needed transparency to our campaign finance system. I believe this legislation will help change business-as-usual in Washington by strengthening ethics laws and increasing federal oversight.”

Congressman Rob Wittman (R-Va.)

“H.R. 1 is a big government power grab that further weakens the integrity and security of our election system. It mandates unconstitutional changes, reversing the longstanding history of state and local control of the electoral process, and instead creates a federally mandated process. H.R. 1 forces states to accept ballot harvesting, weakened voter ID requirements, unrestricted absentee voting without sufficient identification requirements, and the automatic pre-registration of 16- and 17- year olds to vote. Overseeing these new, highly controversial provisions would be a newly partisan FEC, headed by a Commissioner who some are already calling the “Speech Czar,” empowered to decide what campaign speech is acceptable and what is not.

“In addition to this flagrant assault on the Constitution, the very politicians who voted in favor of H.R. 1 would use this bill to flood their campaign accounts with federal dollars. By voting in favor of H.R. 1, the Majority made their priorities clear: they would rather fund their own re-election campaigns than provide relief to families and businesses suffering from the economic devastation caused by COVID-19. As if this was not insulting enough, this vote immediately follows a hyper-partisan relief package in which – of the package’s almost $2 trillion – 91% was diverted from COVID-19 relief to Democrat priorities, including pet projects for Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer.

“We must have faith in the electoral process and continue to take steps to ensure fair and free elections. Unfortunately, H.R. 1 is yet another government overreach by the Democrats in Congress. Despite its name, this bill is not for the people, but for the politicians. I am proud to have stood with the people of Virginia’s First Congressional District against H.R. 1.”

Congressman Bobby Scott (D-Va.)

“Every American should have an equal voice in our democracy regardless of who they are, where they come from, or how much money they have. Virginia has already implemented many of the reforms in this package and they were all very successful in ensuring Virginians could securely exercise their right to vote in the 2020 election. The For The People Act strengthens our democracy for future generations by protecting elections from foreign interference, ending partisan gerrymandering, expanding automatic voter registration and same-day registration, and empowering small donors with matching funds paid for by lawbreakers, not taxpayers. This bill will end the post-Citizens United era of dark money in our politics and restore power to the people. I urge the Senate to pass this bill and send it to the President’s desk as soon as possible.”

Congressman G. K. Butterfield (D-N.C.)

“Today, I voted to pass the most transformational and comprehensive suite of pro-Democracy reforms in a generation. H.R. 1 delivers on our promise to return America to a government of, by and for the people.

“I am proud that my amendment was included in the bill. Beginning in the 2030, my amendment will require states to submit their redistricting plans to the Department of Justice for review to determine whether the map protects the ability of minority communities to elect candidates of choice, and protects against vote dilution.

“H.R. 1 will protect the right to vote, ensure the integrity of our elections, and hold elected officials accountable. This historic reform effort will put an end to decades of dysfunction in Washington and return power back to the American people.”

This story will be updated as more statements are released.

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