House Releases “By the People” Legislative Package

Media Contacts
Dan Smith

House Members unveil package of democracy reform legislation


WASHINGTON, DC – On Thursday, July 14, House Democratic leaders unveiled a package of democracy reform legislation as part of the “Stronger America” agenda. Titled “By the People,” the package includes proposals to overturn Citizens United and related cases through a Constitutional amendment, create a small donor empowerment program, disclose secret political spending, remove barriers to voting, and more. By the People comes on the heels of a similar package of election reforms introduced in the Senate.

Statement from Dan Smith, Democracy Campaign Director, U.S. PIRG:

“Poll after poll shows that voters from both parties want to end Citizens United and enact solutions that put everyday people in the driver’s seat of our democracy. Special interest spending and barriers to voting have made election reform a defining issue for Americans this year. Today’s announcement in the House shows that our lawmakers are listening and that they’re ready to act.

“The By the People agenda provides a comprehensive strategy for putting everyday Americans in control of our elections. Today’s package would lay the foundation for a responsive, transparent, and honest government where every American can participate and have an equal voice.”

The By the People package is comprised of House legislation including the Democracy for All Amendment (H.J.Res. 22), Government by the People Act (H.R. 20), the Voting Rights Amendment Act (H.R. 2867), and more. The Government by the People Act (authored by Rep. Sarbanes) would amplify the voices of small donors by matching small contributions of $150 or less with limited public funds at a six-to-one rate for U.S. House candidates that agree to turn down big money. It would also enable more Americans to participate in the electoral process by establishing a $50 “my voice” refundable tax credit for small contributions.

Polls show that 85 percent of Americans believe our campaign finance system needs either fundamental changes or must be completely rebuilt. Another 69 percent of voters support legislation to restore the Voting Rights Act. A recent poll also shows that 72 percent of Americans favor a law to provide candidates with “limited public matching funds for small contributions they raise from constituents.” 

“Reform campaigns are also underway across the country. Voters in Seattle and Maine proved last year that regular Americans can stand up to big-money politics and win. 16 states and nearly 700 localities have passed resolutions calling to overturn Citizens United through a Constitutional amendment.”

Click here to see a U.S. PIRG Education Fund study examining the impact a small donor matching program would have on this year’s presidential election.


Click here to read about successful and ongoing reform efforts happening across the country.