What You Need To Know About HR 1 / S 1, Congress’ “For The People Act”
HR 1 / S 1 is a massive 791-page bill that slaps together unrelated priorities in a random assortment of bad policies. Taken together, this legislation would exacerbate partisanship, centralize control of the federal government, and silence Americans’ free speech and expression through political engagement.
SILENCING AMERICANS’ FREE SPEECH AND EXPRESSION
“DISCLOSE Act,” “Judicial Ads Act,” “Honest Ads Act,” “Stand By Every Ad Act”
Under HR 1 / S 1…
- Gags Citizens’ Free Speech: Americans wouldn’t be able to “promote,” “attack,” “support,” or “oppose” any policy or legislation from any federal candidate ever – unless they submit to burdensome regulations and filings with the FEC. That includes election years and non-election years, their own congressional members and those from other districts.
- Speech Would Be Regulated: Any group that pays for any ad that addresses any federal elected official would have to file paperwork on whether they paid for the ad “in support of or in opposition to” the official.
- For instance, if a small grassroots group in Virginia pays for a Facebook ad to encourage users to “ask Speaker Pelosi to oppose offshore drilling on the Virginia coastline,” the group would have to file public paperwork on whether they support or oppose Speaker Pelosi, even though the ad addresses neither.
- Donors to Non-Profits Would be Public: Even tiny or brand-new grassroots organizations would have to list their top donors on every internet ad and read them on every radio ad.
- Weakens Judicial Independence: For the first time, groups that support or oppose federal judicial nominees – who are appointed, not elected – would be forced to disclose who has given them money.
- Citizens’ Privacy Subject to Cancel Culture: A “public file,” or public searchable database of donor information, would be created that displays any donors to any political cause or issue campaign. Americans who give to causes as diverse as Planned Parenthood to National Right to Life would be subject to public publication and scrutiny. In today’s “cancel culture,” that is downright dangerous, no matter what an American’s specific political preferences are.
HR 1 / S 1 directly contradicts the ALEC Resolution in Support of Nonprofit Donor Privacy, and because of its overbroad restrictions on Americans’ Constitutional right to free speech and expression, we urge all Congressional Representatives and Senators to oppose it.
A FEDERAL TAKEOVER OF STATE-LED PROCESSES
If enacted, HR 1 / S 1 would result in a complete federal takeover of election processes that have always been governed and managed by the states. The Constitution specifically confers the administration of elections to state legislatures, but HR 1 / S 1 bulldozes state authority in favor of one-size-fits-all electoral processes. This directly contradicts the ALEC core principle of federalism, in which states should be the first authority on processes and administration.
MAKING PARTISANSHIP THE RULE, NOT THE EXCEPTION
HR 1 / S 1 would change the structure of the Federal Election Commission to go from a bipartisan agency to one controlled by the ruling party of the day – Democrat or Republican.
- The FEC is currently composed of 3 Democrats and 3 Republicans; HR 1 / S 1 would reduce it to a 5-member Commission selected by the President.
- The President would also choose the Chair of the Commission, and while the Chair currently holds a largely ceremonial role, HR 1 / S 1 would empower the role so much that s/he would become a de facto “Speech Czar.”
- The Chair would be so powerful that the other Commissioners would have an essentially ceremonial role: the Chair would “consult” with them, but ultimately would act alone in almost all arenas.
At a time when Americans want to see less politicization among unelected government officials, HR 1 / S 1 makes matters much, much worse. Politicizing the FEC by putting it solely in the hands of one political party takes a sledgehammer to the nonpartisanship that has created legitimacy for the FEC for the last 40 years.
- Institute for Free Speech, “H.R. 1 and S. 1 Resource Guide (2021)”
- Institute for Free Speech, “Analysis of H.R. 1 (Part One): ‘For the People Act’ is Replete with Provisions for the Politicians”
- Letter to Congress, Former FEC Commissioners Express Concerns with HR 1 / S 1
- Roll Call, “10 things you might not know about HR 1”