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Democrats' First House Bill To Make America A Democracy Again

Elections

A big plus from throwing House Republicans out on their ears is that we don't have to worry as much about them trying to kill us. As recently as this summer, they were still planning another go at repealing the Affordable Care Act if they managed to unexpectedly survive midterms like the masked psychopath in a slasher movie. Now, after a bonafide blue wave, we not only can breathe easier, but our shiny new blue House might actually pass positive, non-citizen-murdering legislation.

Friday, Democratic leaders unveiled a sweeping political overhaul bill. It's been in the works for month, as part of the "For the People" campaign platform. People like to argue that Democrats have no message other than "Donald Trump sucks," but there was always something on their Web site. Once and future Speaker Nancy Pelosi has designated the bill "H.R. 1." Other bills might receive a House vote before H.R. 1 but it's still technically the "first one," sort of like Star Wars: The Phantom Menace but not garbage.

Pelosi and John Sarbanes, the plan's principal author, detailed specifics of the bill in a Washington Post op-ed titled "The Democratic majority's first order of business: Restore democracy." That's usually just political hyperbole but these days, it's a pretty sober assessment of the situation on the ground.


H.R 1 will target "special-interest dark money, partisan gerrymandering and devious vote-suppression schemes." It's the "Republicans are evil and trying to destroy the country" bill. From what's going on in North Carolina, Michigan, and Wisconsin, it couldn't come at a better time.

We must renew the Voting Rights Act to protect every citizen's access to the ballot box and restore the vital safeguard of pre-clearance requirements for areas with a history of voter suppression. We will promote national automatic voter registration, bolster our critical election infrastructure against foreign attackers, and put an end to partisan gerrymandering once and for all by establishing federal guidelines to outlaw the practice. No American should face hours-long lines, broken voting machines or rules rigged to keep their vote from being counted in our elections.

Republicans tend to think such proposals are self-serving attempts to help Democrats at the polls. There's something suspicious about a political party that believes more people voting is bad for them. Curse those 15th and 19th Amendments!

There's also an ethics plank, which is obviously a partisan attack at the president, who has none. It requires a president to disclose his tax returns, specifically the 1099 detailing any independent contracting work with Russia. Closer to home, it forbids Congress critters from sending taxpayers the bill for sexual harassment settlements. We've paid off 13 suits over the past 15 years at a total of $300,000, $84,000 of which went to a former House staffer who had to exist in the same zip code as Blake Farenthold.

Super PACs will have to publicly reveal the names of donors exercising their free speech to buy politicians. H.R 1 will also mandate new ethical code for the Supreme Court (maybe no more accused rapists?) and pull the plug on most first-class travel for federal officeholders. That one concerns me a little because I don't want to wind up sitting beside notorious arm-rest hog Cathy McMorris Rodgers from Washington on a future flight.

Democrats also plan to finally pass the Dream Act, as well as protect LGBT Americans with the Equality Act.

Back in 2016, then House Speaker Paul Ryan hyped his "Better Way" plan for Republicans if they took back the White House. He already had the House and Senate, but he needed someone who wasn't Barack Obama -- even if that someone was Trump -- to sign into law all his "fabulously detailed plans" for a "better" America.

Somehow he accomplished next to nothing, even while having control of all branches of government, which every civics-minded Republican will tell you are not chambers. Pelosi just has a single chamber all to her lonesome. She realizes most Democratic bills won't get through the GOP-controlled Senate and if by some fluke they did, they would languish on Trump's desk like vegetables on his dinner plate. But she's gonna whip the votes anyway and put the screws to Trump. And we're all here for it.

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Seattle. However, he's more reliable for food and drink recommendations in Portland, where he spends a lot of time for theatre work. His co-adaptation of "Jitterbug Perfume" by Tom Robbins is playing NOW at Pioneer Square's Cafe Nordo. All Wonketters welcome.

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You guys, hi, hello, it is almost the holiday weekend, so we are going to share you a real video posted last night by "Doctor" Sebastian "Don't Call Me A Nazi" Gorka, that hilarious old knucklecuck. We guess now that he had to give up (or gave up voluntarily!) his Fox News contract, he just makes videos for the Twitter. Hoo ... ray?

Anyway, Gorka is super-excited that Donald Trump issued that order last night, giving Bill Barr all kinds of new powers to expose the Deep State for what it is and PROVE once and for all that the gremlins who live inside Trump's diarrhea are correct when they say Hillary ordered the Deep State to do an illegal witch hunt to Trump, yadda yadda yadda, you've seen these people huff paint before, we don't have to type it all.

Here is the video, after which Wonkette will either transcribe it OR we will provide our own dramatic interpretation. Which one will it be? We don't know! Would you be able to tell the difference between the two? We don't know!

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We want to say right here at the outset that we hate Julian Assange. Aside from the sexual assault allegations against him, and aside from the fact that he's just a generally stinky and loathsome person who reportedly smeared poop on the walls at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, while reportedly not taking care of his cat, an innocent creature, he acted as Russia's handmaiden during the 2016 election, in order to further Russia's campaign to steal it for Donald Trump. All signs point to his campaign being a success!

So we are justifiably happy when bad things happen to Julian Assange. We are happy his name is shit the world over, and that any reputation WikiLeaks used to have for being on the side of freedom and transparency has been stuffed down the toilet where it belongs. We are happy he looked like such a sad-ass loser when the Ecuadorian embassy finally kicked him out and he was arrested.

And quite frankly, we were OK with the initial charge against him recently unsealed in the Eastern District of Virginia. If you'll remember, he was charged with trying to help Chelsea Manning hack a password into the Defense Department, which is not what journalists do. Journalists do not drive the get-away car for sources. Journalists do not hold their sources' hair back while they're stealing classified intel. Assange is essentially accused of doing all that.

Now, put all that aside. Because -- and this is key -- journalists do publish secrets they are provided by sources. That's First Amendment, chapter and verse, American as fucking apple pie and fast-food-induced diabetes. And that is what much of the superseding indictment of Assange unsealed yesterday was about. (And nope, it wasn't about anything regarding Assange's ratfucking the 2016 election or Hillary's emails. Why would the Trump Justice Department prosecute anything about that? It's all about the older Chelsea Manning stuff, the stuff the Obama Justice Department considered charging Assange with, but ultimately declined, because of that little thing called the First Amendment.)

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