The first bill House Democrats introduced after taking control in January was ambitious legislation promising to reduce money in politics, expand voting rights, and crack down on corruption in Washington. The bill, HR 1, is "not going to go anywhere," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in December. And he explained why in an op-ed in The Washington Post late Thursday.
McConnell's op-ed, which focused on HR 1's voting rights and campaign finance aspects, could be read as a response to one published by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) in late November. They describe the bill very differently:
McConnell: "Their bill proposes making Election Day a new paid holiday," or an "extra taxpayer-funded vacation for bureaucrats."
Pelosi: "Let's make it easier, not harder, to vote."
McConnell: "Pelosi and company are pitching new taxpayer subsidies, including a 600 percent government match for certain political donations and a new voucher program that would funnel even more public dollars to campaigns."
Pelosi: "We must also empower hard-working Americans in our democracy by building a 21st-century campaign-finance system ... to increase and multiply the power of small donors" over "wealthy special interests."
McConnell: "Egregiously, the legislation dedicates hundreds of pages to federalizing the electoral process. It would make states mimic the practices that recently caused California to incorrectly register 23,000 ineligible voters. It would make it harder for states to fix inaccurate data in their voter rolls."
Pelosi: "We will promote national automatic voter registration, bolster our critical election infrastructure against foreign attackers, and put an end to partisan gerrymandering once and for all by establishing federal guidelines to outlaw the practice."
McConnell: "Many more Americans would have to notify the feds when spending even small amounts of money on speech or else be penalized."
Pelosi: "Let's rein in the unaccountable 'dark money' unleashed by the Supreme Court's Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision by requiring all political organizations to disclose their donors."
This "naked attempt to change the rules of American politics," McConnell writes, "should be called the Democrat Politician Protection Act." Pelosi agrees HR 1 "will ultimately change the balance of power in Washington," though away from "special interests" and toward "hard-working Americans."