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U.S House passes 'For the People Act' in effort to expand voting rights

The bill now heads to the Senate, where it faces the challenge of the filibuster.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the For the People Act Wednesday night, aimed at expanding voting rights across the country.

The bill passed the House 220-210. The House passed a similar measure in 2019, though Democrats now narrowly control the Senate. Minnesota’s Congressional Delegation voted along party lines.

Democrats Angie Craig, Betty McCollum, Ilhan Omar and Dean Phillips voted in favor of the bill.

“As we all saw on January 6th, our democracy is under attack,” Omar said in a statement. “As someone who survived civil conflict, I know personally that political violence does not go away on its own. We need dramatic reform to end corruption and restore our democracy." 

Some key provisions in the bill:

  • Implementing automatic voter registration across the country
  • Expanding early voting and mail-in voting
  • Restoring voting rights for formerly incarcerated people
  • Increase oversight of lobbying, preventing members of Congress from serving on corporate boards, and requiring presidents to release their tax returns.
  • Using nonpartisan redistricting commissions to prevent gerrymandering

Minnesota Republicans Tom Emmer, Michelle Fischbach, Jim Hagedorn and Pete Stauber voted against it.

It comes amid wider efforts by Republican parties across the U.S. to introduce Voter ID laws and other measures to restrict ballot access, citing virtually non-existent examples of election fraud as the justification, despite concerns raised that this will disenfranchise voters.

Fischbach, who backed former President's Trump "Big Lie" by voting against the certification of Joe Biden's election win, referred to the For the People Act as a "partisan power grab by Democrats bent on stacking the deck in their favor" by allowing greater voting access.

Among the provisions in the bill is the Voter NOTICE Act, authored by Phillips. The provision requires election officials to reach out to voters about changes in election procedure and produce public awareness messages on TV and social media.

Omar authored the Protect Against Unlawful Lobbying Act in the bill. The provision requires that the Department of Justice establish a separate unit for investigation and enforcement of foreign lobbying agents.

The bill now faces an uphill battle in the Senate, which has narrow Democratic control with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote. But the bill will also require 60 votes to get past the Senate filibuster. 

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