The For the People Act, S. 2093, was defeated by Republican use of the filibuster in the Senate. The bill was positioned as improving voter access to the ballot, but it contained language making it harder for advocacy organizations such as non-partisan immigration reduction group NumbersUSA to function.
According to a report by NumbersUSA, the For the People Act would have the following impacts on the operations of advocacy groups:
- Mandate public release of donor information, thus discouraging voters from taking part in advocating in favor of or in opposition to legislation.
- Limit, and possibly eliminate, NumbersUSA’s ability to publish grades for legislators on their voting with regard to immigration and to offer voters comparisons between members in order to make them accountable for their votes.
- Broaden the definition of electioneering to the point where it includes legislation advocacy, increasing the difficulty for NumbersUSA to offer activists the opportunity to take action on particular legislation. The bill would also serve to restrict activists from offering their opinions on the merits of pending legislation.
NumbersUSA takes the position that, to benefit society as a whole, governments should focus on selecting the right number of authorized immigrants to allow into the country. This position is supported by the conclusions of two high profile commissions (U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and President Clinton’s Task Force on Population & Consumption) which found that reducing immigration was key to promoting economic fairness for vulnerable Americans and ensuring a high quality of life and environment for future generations.
The vote rejecting the For the People Act took place on June 22, when the Democrats were unable to muster the votes to overturn a Republican filibuster and begin debate on the bill. While all of the Democrats in the Senate supported the bill, including Joe Manchin (D-W.Va), who had initially not been in favor of the measure as written, all 50 Republicans opposed the measure.
The campaign to stop the bill was spearheaded by Mitch McConnell (R-Ky), Senate Minority Leader, who cited the bill’s restrictions on citizen activism in explaining why he was opposed to the bill.
“Among the most dangerous parts of S. 1,” McConnell said, “is the way it would equip partisan regulators to intimidate and discourage private citizens from engaging in political speech.”
“So, when private contributors, non-profit advocacy groups, and religious organizations see that S. 1’s disclosure requirements would intentionally unlearn the lessons of the IRS’ abuses under Lois Lerner,” he added, “they have plenty of reasons to fear.”
McConnell further stated: “Naming and shaming is not a hypothetical concept. It’s been a concrete reality for thousands of private citizens. And today, Democrats are asking for a green light to supercharge the intimidation machine that makes it possible.”
While the American Civil Liberties Union, which has long supported liberal causes, remained neutral on the bill, it nevertheless signaled its concern with regard to the bill’s limitations on citizen activism.
“[S. 2093] could directly interfere with the ability of many to engage in political speech about causes that they care about and that impact their lives by imposing new and onerous disclosure requirements on nonprofits committed to advancing those causes.”
With the failure to overcome the Republican filibuster, the For the People Act is dead, at least for now. The only hope of resurrecting the bill would be if the Democrats were able to convince all of their members to vote to overturn the filibuster. However, both Senator Joe Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz) have vowed to oppose any such action.
NumbersUSA, based in Washington D.C. and Arlington, Virginia, is the largest grassroots organization focused on immigration reduction in the U.S. The nonpartisan group has more than eight million participants including conservatives, liberals and moderates. Its members are encouraged to persuade public officials that the country stands to benefit from reducing immigration numbers toward traditional levels, thereby enabling current and future generations to enjoy a standard of living that isn’t negatively impacted by excessive immigration numbers.
Learn more about NumbersUSA here: https://www.guidestar.org/profile/47-0865426