washington House OKs election, ethics overhaul


Associated Press

WASHINGTON

Newly empowered House Democrats approved a centerpiece of their agenda Friday, a sweeping plan to reduce the role of big money in politics, ensure fair elections and strengthen ethics standards.

But the leader of the Republican-run Senate has pledged it will not come up for a vote, and the White House issued a veto threat.

The measure would make it easier for people to register and vote, tighten election security and require presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns.

Election Day would become a holiday for federal workers and a public financing system for congressional campaigns would be established. The bill would bar voter roll purges such as those seen in Georgia, Ohio and elsewhere, and restore voting rights for ex-prisoners.

The legislation was approved 234-193 on a straight party-line vote, with all Democrats voting “yes” and all Republicans voting “no.”

Republicans called the bill a Democratic power grab that amounts to a federal takeover of elections and could cost billions of dollars.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the proposal was dead on arrival in that chamber.

The White House said in a statement that the Democrats’ plan would “micromanage” elections that now are run largely by states and would establish “costly and unnecessary programs to finance political campaigns” and force taxpayers to fund federal candidates they may not support.

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the bill “restores the people’s faith that government works for the public interest – the people’s interest – not the special interests.”

Trying to turn Republicans’ words against them, Pelosi said, “Yes it is a power grab – a power grab on behalf of the people.”

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