WASHINGTON (March 1, 2021)—Since Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats took control of Congress in 2019, they have hailed H.R. 1 as their cornerstone legislation. Reintroduced in the 117th Congress, H.R. 1 is poised to pass in the new Democrat-controlled Senate. However, H.R. 1, the supposedly “transformational and comprehensive suite of democracy reforms,” offers far more harm than good.

Today, R Street released an analysis of H.R. 1 from governance scholars Anthony Marcum and Jonathan Bydlak that identifies three broad categories where H.R. 1 fails. They highlight the legislation’s attempt to federalize elections unnecessarily, place the federal courts into an unnecessary—and perhaps unconstitutional—spotlight, and curtail crucial speech and association rights.

“[A] step toward the federalization of elections is generally a step in the wrong direction that would allow for easier abuse of our electoral system in the future. The decentralized structure of the federal election system is one of the biggest deterrents against abuse by malicious political actors,” said Marcum and Bydlak.

The authors found that our elections system does not allow Washington, D.C. to micromanage the administration of local elections the way this legislation proposes. Further, in their approach to de-escalate the political tensions that have swirled around the judicial system as of late, H.R. 1 calls for major government overreach of the judicial branch that may even be unconstitutional. Finally, H.R. 1 takes severe steps to curtail speech and association rights, and threatens to create a chilling effect on policy-oriented nonprofits and others engaged in the political process.

Marcum and Bydlak conclude that: “The bill’s sponsors would be best suited to discard these more harmful provisions and work to advance more individualized measures at the appropriate levels of government.”

Read the full analysis here.

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