Senate Republicans filibustered the For the People Act, S. 2093, on Tuesday, killing the Democrats hopes of passing legislation that would put severe restrictions on citizen advocacy groups like NumbersUSA. While the legislation was billed as a voter reform bill, and did include provisions to increase access to the ballot, it also included provisions that would make it much more difficult for advocacy groups to operate.
The For the People Act would:
- discourage voters from organizing to advocate for or against legislation by requiring public release of donor information;
- significantly limit, or even eliminate, NumbersUSA's ability to grade members of Congress on immigration actions and to provide voters with candidate comparisons to hold members accountable; and
- expand the definition of electioneering to cover advocacy on legislation, making it more difficult for NumbersUSA to provide action opportunities to activists on specific legislation and to limit the ability of activists to voice their opinions on upcoming legislation.
During a partisan vote on Tuesday afternoon, Senate Republicans blocked debate on the legislation. All Democrats supported bringing the legislation to the floor after Democratic Leaders were able to persuade Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) at the last minute to support bringing the bill to the floor.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) led the GOP revolt against the For the People Act, in part, because of it's provisions restricting citizen activism.
“Among of the most dangerous parts of S. 1 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, they have plenty of reasons to fear.
“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 staying neutral on the legislation, the liberal-leaning American Civil Liberties Union also expressed concern over the bill's provisions to limit 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."
The legislation is officially dead, unless Democrats can convince Sens. Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) to eliminate the Senate filibuster. Both Sens. Manchin and Sinema have written op-eds supporting the filibuster.
Updated: Wed, Jul 7th 2021 @ 7:55am EDT