June 16, 2021
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), the top Republican on the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, spoke on the Senate floor today to discuss some of the most flawed policies included Democrats’ massive, 800+ page election legislation, S. 1. Blunt also criticized Democrats for rushing to get the bill through Congress despite bipartisan opposition in the House and Senate. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) said the Senate will vote on the bill next week.
Following Are Excerpts from Blunt’s Remarks:
“Mr. President, you and I, as we sit on the Rules Committee, saw the debate on this bill, the bill that the sponsors call the For the People Act. I really think it more accurately could be called the For the Politician Act. S. 1, marked up in the Rules Committee last month, at a markup that I certainly raised a number of concerns about the bill and others did, too. It's more than 800 pages. It contains policies relating to election administration, to campaign finance, to redistricting and much more.
“Now, the truth is, we don't know what bill will come to the floor because this bill couldn't get out of committee. And, apparently, we're going to not use the committee process but, in fact, will bring a different bill to the floor that nobody has seen yet. But this bill seems to get bigger over time, not smaller over time. It includes the overwhelmingly bad idea that Congress should impose a federal takeover of elections and force a-one-size-fits all approach on the more than 10,000 voting jurisdictions in the country. There are very few things that you can develop a formula that works just right in 10,000 places. In fact, in our states and in the District of Columbia, we have a pretty significant problem coming up with 51 different structures that work for everywhere, in every jurisdiction that's impacted by that.
“This bill also has some deadlines that are so short that if it became law, it would create chaos in next year's elections and make the election process less trusted, not more trusted. We should be focusing on federal laws and state laws that make it easier to vote and harder to cheat. I think this bill makes it easier to cheat and harder to figure out whether anybody cheated or not.
“S. 1 undermines the popular state voter identification laws. A majority of our states now require some kind of identification, and an overwhelming number of voters believe that voter identification at the polls is a good thing.
“This bill allows operatives, political operatives, to fan out across a community and collect an unlimited number of ballots. In fact, it says states can't even stop that process of ballot harvesting. Those ballot harvesters can collect ballots from you. They can collect ballots from your neighbors, from vulnerable voters like people in nursing homes. And, frankly, who knows if they turn them in or not? Who knows if they put them in the post office box or not? If they never show up, the ballot harvester, who may very well know that your ballot is a ballot they don't agree with, just says, 'well, I don't know what happened. It must've have been lost in the mail.' And, who would ever know whether it was lost in the mail or not?
“In addition to undermining voter identification laws and making it possible for complete strangers to take your ballot, S. 1 disrupts states’ long-made efforts to maintain an accurate list of eligible voters. Voter rolls, Madam President, are the foundation really of election administration. I was the chief election official in our state. I was a local election official in our state. An accurate list of who can vote that people can look at before the election, during the election, and after the election create great confidence in the process.
“Accurate lists ensure that voters are able to cast a ballot, and the ballot they should cast in the district they actually live in. And that can be pretty complicated sometimes, and really only the election authority can be aware of that when they know exactly where you live. Election officials, when you have accurate lists, know who's voted, and frankly, they know who hasn't voted. So if the same person comes in, or at least a person pretending to be the same person a second time, you know that. Accurate voter lists allow voters to check in more quickly, to get that efficient and quick exercise of democracy done. One of the things everybody constantly talks about is, 'well, it makes it too hard to vote.' If you really want to make it hard to vote, make it hard to figure out who the voters are that are supposed to be voting at a given precinct.
“The right to vote is a bedrock principle in our democracy. The right to vote wherever you want to vote is not a bedrock principle in our democracy. You can't just decide, 'well, this year, I think it's going to be pretty competitive in some other state. I'll just drive over there on Election Day and vote.' Or, frankly, you can't just decide, 'you know, that congressional district next door to the one I live in looks more competitive than the one I live in. I think I'll go over there and vote this year instead of in the district that the census tract would have put me in.' The right to vote is a bedrock principle. The right to vote wherever you want to isn't. …
“This bill prohibits states from putting in place really just reasonable election security measures that have been upheld by courts. It takes away the guardrails that prevent fraud from happening and ensure that when you do have fraud, you have ways to figure out that that fraud occurred and what to do about it. …
“Democracies benefit from local responsibility. One political party, however, thinks this bill will give it an electoral advantage, and they have thought that for about 20 years. This is the compilation of 20 years of Democrats in the Congress thinking, 'what could we do to change the election law that would be helpful for us?' And that's where we are in this legislation.
“It was written by one party alone. It's been steered through Congress by one party alone. It's not actually been seen by anybody on the other party yet. And the majority leader says this bill, that probably is still going to be about 800 pages, will come to the floor next week. In both chambers of the Congress, there has been bipartisan opposition to the bill and no bipartisan support of this bill. The danger of those kind of sweeping changes really can do a lot to negatively impact our election system.
“But it doesn't stop there. It would turn the Federal Election Commission into a partisan tool where the party of the president has a majority. There's a reason that that six member commission was equally divided when it was set up, just like there's a reason the Senate Ethics Committee is equally divided.
“This bill would send federal money to campaign coffers at the rate of $6 for every dollar raised for every contribution of under $200. And, I think the number that my friend Chairman Grassley was talking about was if you'd raised $5 million of under $200, you'd get $30 million from the federal government—$30 million of government money that could clearly be used for something else. In fact, the current members of the Senate would be eligible under the total restrictions of the bill to get $1.8 billion in federal money. Talk about a conflict of interest when you vote for this bill.
“The bill also changes redistricting, established in the Constitution for the states, and basically assures that all congressional redistricting would be done by federal courts. Now that doesn't affect the Senate much, but it affects the government a lot. It places heavy burdens on free speech and impacts every branch of the federal government.
“I've heard proponents of this bill say that it's necessary to push back against recently passed state voter laws and protect the voting rights of Americans. This bill has nothing to do with voting rights. It doesn't protect the right of a single American to cast a ballot. ..
“This is a federal takeover of elections. It should be rejected by the Senate. I believe it will be rejected by the Senate. We look forward to seeing the other side defend this bill next week.”