The Biden administration is formally supporting H.R. 1, otherwise known as the For the People Act, which contains a substantive list of legislative changes that are designed to strengthen the security of voting rights and protect against corruption in the government. The Democrat-led House already passed the legislation once, but at the time, Donald Trump was in the White House and Republicans were in control of the Senate. Now, with Democrats in control of the Senate and the White House, there’s a potentially greater opportunity to make progress with the legislation, although the Biden administration also says that they don’t support ending the filibuster.
The filibuster means that moving legislation to a vote often needs the support of 60 Senators, and although Democrats currently control the Senate, they only have 51 votes. The fate of the filibuster has recently been a hot button issue among Senators and their allies.
Meanwhile, discussing the H.R. 1 legislation, the Biden administration said as follows:
‘In the wake of an unprecedented assault on our democracy, a never before seen effort to ignore, undermine, and undo the will of the people, and a newly aggressive attack on voting rights taking place right now all across the country, this landmark legislation is urgently needed to protect the right to vote and the integrity of our elections, and to repair and strengthen American democracy.’
The For the People Act would, among other provisions, expand mail-in voting, establish an ethics code for Supreme Court justices, and require the usage of independent commissions for the redistricting process.
Under current procedures, state legislators often control the redistricting process, meaning that they can manipulatively draw district lines to help keep themselves in power via putting their own supporters in the majority within twisting and contorted boundaries. Redistricting is set to get underway this year following last year’s census, and in the past, the process has been usurped by Republicans hoping to secure GOP-majority districts, no matter required contortions of the district boundaries. If legislators draw districts to keep themselves and their allies in power, then what happens to the actual voice of the people as a whole?
As the Biden team mentioned, the H.R. 1 legislation would also directly address some of the major lingering problems of the Trump era. Broadly, then-President Trump frequently refused to take election security seriously enough to the point of actually meaningfully confronting Russia over their meddling. Republicans, including Trump, have also led attacks against voting accessibility, falsely claiming that mail-in voting is systematically susceptible to outcome-altering fraud, among other points.