Zoe Lofgren on Government Reform
Democratic Representative (CA-16)
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D, FL-20): We, as Members of Congress, have responsibility not just for the institution, but for the staff that work for this institution, and to preserve the facilities that help support this institution. We have endeavored to do that responsibly, and I believe we have accomplished that goal.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. SCALISE (R, LA-1): It's a sad day when someone attempts to cut spending in a bill that grows government by the size of 7%, and it's not allowed to be debated on this House floor. Some of their Members actually used the term "nonsense" and "foolishness" when describing our amendments to cut spending; they call that a delaying tactic. Well, I think Americans all across this country want more of those types of delaying tactics to slow down this runaway train of massive Federal spending. Every dollar we spend from today all the way through the end of this year is borrowed money. We don't have that money. We need to control what we're spending.
Proponents support voting YES because:
This measure will more effectively regulate, but does not ban, the practice of registered lobbyists bundling together large numbers of campaign contributions. This is a practice that has already taken root in Presidential campaigns. "Bundling" contributions which the lobbyist physically receives and forwards to the candidate, or which are credited to the lobbyist through a specific tracking system put in place by the candidate. This bill requires quarterly reporting on bundled contributions.
We ultimately need to move to assist the public financing of campaigns, as soon as we can. But until we do, the legislation today represents an extremely important step forward.
Opponents support voting NO because:
This legislation does not require that bundled contributions to political action committees, often referred to as PACs, be disclosed. Why are PACs omitted from the disclosure requirements in this legislation?
If we are requiring the disclosure of bundled contributions to political party committees, those same disclosure rules should also apply to contributions to PACs. Party committees represent all members of that party affiliation. PACs, on the other hand, represent more narrow, special interests. Why should the former be exposed to more sunshine, but not the latter?
The fact that PACs give more money to Democrats is not the only answer. Time and again the majority party picks favorites, when what the American people want is more honesty and more accountability.
Proponents support voting YES because:
This bill corrects a 200-year-old oversight by restoring to the citizens of the District of Columbia the right to elect a Member of the House of Representatives who has the same voting rights as all other Members.
Residents of D.C. serve in the military. They pay Federal taxes each year. Yet they are denied the basic right of full representation in the House of Representatives.
The District of Columbia was created to prevent any State from unduly influencing the operations of the Federal Government. However, there is simply no evidence that the Framers of the Constitution thought it was necessary to keep D.C. residents from being represented in the House by a voting Member.
Opponents support voting NO because:
The proponents of this bill in 1978 believed that the way to allow D.C. representation was to ratify a constitutional amendment. The Founders of the country had the debate at that time: Should we give D.C. a Representative? They said no. So if you want to fix it, you do it by making a constitutional amendment.
Alternatively, we simply could have solved the D.C. representation problem by retroceding, by giving back part of D.C. to Maryland. There is precedent for this. In 1846, Congress took that perfectly legal step of returning present-day Arlington to the State of Virginia.
Proponents support voting YES because:
This bill would strengthen one of our most important weapons against waste, fraud and abuse, and that is Federal whistleblower protections. Federal employees are on the inside and offer accountability. They can see where there is waste going on or if there is corruption going on.
One of the most important provisions protects national security whistleblowers. There are a lot of Federal officials who knew the intelligence on Iraq was wrong. But none of these officials could come forward. If they did, they could have been stripped of their security clearances, or they could have been fired. Nobody blew the whistle on the phony intelligence that got us into the Iraq war.
Opponents support voting NO because:
It is important that personnel within the intelligence community have appropriate opportunities to bring matters to Congress so long as the mechanisms to do so safeguard highly sensitive classified information and programs. The bill before us suffers from a number of problems:
Proponents support voting YES because:
The election system is the bedrock that our Republic is built on and its security and oversight is of paramount concern. Only US citizens have the right to vote in Federal elections, but our current system does not give State election officials the tools they need to ensure that this requirement is being met.
This bill is designed to increase participation by ensuring that each legitimate vote will be counted and not be diluted by fraud. There are many elections in this country every cycle that are decided by just a handful of votes. How can we be certain that these elections, without measures to certify the identity of voters, are not being decided by fraudulent votes?
Opponents support voting NO because:
There is something we can all agree on: only Americans get to vote, and they only get to vote once. But what we are talking about in this bill is disenfranchising many of those Americans. It is already a felony for a non-American to vote. We had hearings and what we found out was that the issue of illegal aliens voting basically does not occur.
The impact of this will disproportionately affect poor people and African Americans, because many are too poor to have a car and they do not have a license. We have no evidence there is a problem. We have ample evidence that this will disenfranchise many Americans. This is the measure to disenfranchise African Americans, Native Americans. It is wrong and we will not stand for it.
Return Politics to the People
At a time when much of the world is emulating American values and institutions, too many Americans have lost confidence in their political system. They are turned off by a partisan debate that often seems to revolve not around opposing philosophies but around contending sets of interest groups. They believe that our current system for financing campaigns gives disproportionate power to wealthy individuals and groups and exerts too much influence over legislative and regulatory outcomes.
The time for piecemeal reform is past. As campaign costs soar at every level, we need to move toward voluntary public financing of all general elections and press broadcasters to donate television time to candidates.
The Internet holds tremendous potential for making campaigns less expensive and more edifying and for engaging Americans directly in electoral politics. We should promote the Internet as a new vehicle for political communication and champion online voting.
OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: Amends federal criminal law to prohibit any person from knowingly deceiving any other person regarding:
SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. OBAMA: Voter participation is fundamental to our democracy, and we must do all we can to encourage those who can to vote. I also hope voters go to the polls with accurate information about what is on the ballot, where they are supposed to vote, and what our Nation's voting laws are.
It might surprise some of you to know, but even in this awesome age of technological advancement and easy access to information, there are folks who will stop at nothing to try to deceive people and keep them away from the polls. These deceptive practices all too often target and exploit vulnerable populations, like minorities, the disabled, or the poor.
Deceptive practices often rely on a few tried and true tricks. Voters are often warned that an unpaid parking ticket will lead to their arrest or that folks with family members who have been convicted of a crime are ineligible to vote. Of course, these warnings have no basis in fact, and they are made with one goal and one goal only: to keep Americans away from the polls.
The bill I am introducing today provides the clear statutory language and authority needed to get allegations of deceptive practices investigated. It establishes harsh penalties for those found to have perpetrated them. Deceptive practices and voter intimidation are real problems and demand real solutions like those offered in my bill.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Rules and Administration; never came to a vote.
Introductory statement by Sponsor:
Sen. CLINTON: I rise today to introduce legislation that will create an undergraduate institution designed to cultivate a generation of young leaders dedicated to public service. The US Public Service Academy Act (The PSA Act) will form a national academy to serve as an extraordinary example of effective, national public education.
The tragic events of September 11 and the devastation of natural disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita underscore how much our Nation depends on strong public institutions and competent civilian leadership at all levels of society. Congress must take a step forward to ensure competent civilian leadership and improve our Nation's ability to respond to future emergencies and to confront daily challenges.
This legislation will create the US Public Service Academy to groom future public servants and build a corps of capable civilian leaders. Modeled after the military service academies, this academy will provide a four-year, federally-subsidized college education for more than 5,000 students a year in exchange for a five year commitment to public service.
The PSA Act will meet critical national needs as the baby-boomer generation approaches retirement. Already, studies show looming shortages in the Federal civil service, public education, law enforcement, the non-profit sector and other essential areas.
Unfortunately our young people are priced out of public service careers all too often. By providing a service-oriented education at no cost to the student, the PSA Act will tap into the strong desire to serve that already exists among college students while erasing the burden of enormous college debt.
The establishment of a United States Public Service Academy is an innovative way to strengthen and protect America by creating a corps of well-trained, highly-qualified civilian leaders. I am hopeful that my Senate colleagues from both sides of the aisle will join me today.
The House Committee on House Administration deals with the general administration matters of the United States House of Representatives, such as:
The U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary, known as the House Judiciary Committee, is charged with overseeing the administration of justice within the federal courts, administrative agencies and Federal law enforcement entities. The Judiciary Committee is also the committee responsible for impeachments of federal officials. Because of the legal nature of its oversight, committee members usually have a legal background, but this is not required.
Congressional Summary:Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (STOCK Act): Amends the Securities Exchange Act and the Commodity Exchange Act to prohibit purchase or sale of either securities or commodities by a person in possession of material nonpublic information regarding pending or prospective legislative action.
Bill explanation (ProCon.org, "Insider Trading by Congress", Feb. 3, 2012):
The result of Citizens United was that "Super PACs" spent millions on TV ads in the 2012 election, advocating both issues and candidates. The DISCLOSE Act attempts to reduce the negative effect of Citizens United by requiring disclosure of independent expenditures made by advocacy groups.
A BILL to amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to require States to establish a minimum period of 15 days for early voting prior to the date of an election for Federal office and to ensure that no individual will be required to wait for longer than one hour to cast a ballot at a polling place in an election for Federal office.
Disclosure of Information on Spending on Campaigns Leads to Open and Secure Elections Act of 2013 or DISCLOSE 2013 Act:
Congressional Summary:Amends the Voting Rights Act of 1965 with respect to the requirement that a federal court retain jurisdiction for an appropriate period to prevent commencement of new devices to deny or abridge the right to vote. Expands the types of violations triggering the authority of a court to retain such jurisdiction to include certain violations of the Act as well as violations of any federal voting rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or membership in a language minority group. [This bill would ban requiring photo IDs in order to vote].
Opponents recommend voting NO because:Sen. Bob Dole (on related bill from 2007, whether to add an amendment allowing photo ID): I am proposing a commonsense measure to uphold the integrity of Federal elections. My amendment to require voters to show photo identification at the polls would go a long way in minimizing potential for voter fraud. When a fraudulent vote is cast and counted, the vote of a legitimate voter is cancelled. This is wrong, and my amendment would help ensure that one of the hallmarks of our democracy, our free and fair elections, is protected. Opinion polls repeatedly confirm that Americans overwhelmingly support this initiative.
Proponents support voting YES because:Sen. Dianne Feinstein (on related bill from 2007): If one would want to suppress the vote in the 2008 election, one would vote [for Dole's amendment] this because this measure goes into effect January 1, 2008. It provides that everybody who votes essentially would have to have a photo ID. If you want to suppress the minority vote, the elderly vote, the poor vote, this is exactly the way to do it. Many of these people do not have driver's licenses. This amendment would cost hundreds of millions of dollars to actually carry out. It goes into effect--surprise--January 1, 2008 [to affect the presidential election].
Proponent's argument in favor (by Reps. Nancy Pelosi & John Sarbanes): Citizens United shook the foundation of our democracy: the principle that it is the voices of the people, not the bank accounts of the privileged few, that determine the outcome of our elections and the policies of our government. Most members of Congress would leap at the chance to fund their campaigns without having to turn to a familiar cast of big donors and entrenched interests. Today, that's virtually impossible. But we can and must break the grip of special interests on our politics: rally around H.R. 20.
Opponent's argument against (The Examiner): The proposed legislation seeks to undo the Citizens United v. FEC ruling which has been a thorn in the side of progressives ever since the Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that political spending was "a form of protected speech under the First Amendment." Although the "Government by the People Act" innocently claims to want to get big money out of politics, the real goal is to smash the Tea Party. The fear that conservative groups would have access to funds typically granted to progressive groups and unions was too much to bear.
Supporters reasons for voting YEA:Rep. Sarbanes: Big money warps Congress' priorities and erodes the public's trust in government. This bold new legislation returns voice and power back to the American people:
Opponents reasons for voting NAY:(Bill Moyers, Feb. 19, 2015): This citizen engagement strategy, particularly when used to court small donors, is not without its critics. Small donors, at least in the current system, often tend to be political ideologues. That trend leaves many asking: won't moving to small donors just empower extremists? Sarbanes counters, if Congress changes the political fundraising rules, they will also change the calculus for "the rational small donor who right now isn't going to give $25 because they've figured out that it's not going to matter." The prospect of a 6-to-1 match might very well impact how those less ideologically extreme potential donors think about political giving.
Congressional Summary: Sets forth procedures for admission into the United States of the state of New Columbia.
Opponents reasons for voting NAY: (DCist.com, Sept. 2014): The Argument Against: Congress does not have the authority to grant statehood to D.C.; the 23rd amendment, which gave D.C. three electoral votes, would have to be repealed before statehood was granted. Washington is a wholly urban, one-industry town, dependent on the federal government far in excess of any other state. Moreover, with Congress no longer having authority over New Columbia but dependent on it, New Columbia could exert influence on the federal government far in excess of any other state.
Supporters reasons for voting YEA: [Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-DC; the District of Columbia has one representative to Congress and no Senators; Rep. Holmes can introduce bills but her vote does not count]: This 51st state would have no jurisdiction over the federal territory or enclave that now consists of the Washington that Members of Congress and visitors associate with the capital of our country. Those would remain under federal jurisdiction. The New Columbia Admission Act was the first bill I introduced in 1991. Statehood is the only alternative for the citizens of the District of Columbia. To be content with less than statehood is to concede the equality of citizenship that is the birthright of our residents as citizens of the United States.
Supporters reasons for voting YEA: (BrennanCenter.org): Too many Americans go to vote on Election Day only to find their names are not on the voter rolls--often, wrongly deleted. The US is on the verge of a new paradigm for registering voters: automatic, permanent registration of eligible voters, which would add up to 50 million eligible voters to the rolls.
Opponents reasons for voting NAY: (Gov. Christie's veto message on the "Democracy Act", Nov. 2015): Christie called a provision establishing automatic voter registration that requires New Jerseyan to opt out a "government-knows-best, backwards approach that would inconvenience citizens and waste government resources for no justifiable reason." Automatic voter registration would have added 1.6 million people to the state's voter rolls.
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution to abolish the electoral college and to provide for the direct election of the President and Vice President.
Opponents' viewpoint by Washington Times 3/28/19: The Founding Fathers dreamed up a way to elect a president by overriding the popular will, and some people want to fix something that ain't broke. The Founders were not at all confident that voters would pay sufficient attention to the job at hand, studying the men and issues to come to a correct evaluation of the candidates. The genius of the Electoral College is that it guarantees that the states' electors elect the president, as instructed by the people. Without this guarantee, a presidential candidate would spend all his time in CA, TX, and FL, with only grudging nods to the states of flyover country. The guarantee of attention to both large and small states enforces federalism, the sharing of powers between the central government and the states.
Opposing argument from the Heritage Foundation, 2/1/2019: HR1 federalizes and micromanages
the election process administered by the states, imposing unnecessary mandates on the states and reversing the decentralization of the American election process. What HR1 Would Do:
Legislative outcome: Passed House 234-193-5 on 3/8/19; received with no action in Senate thru 12/31/2019
Rep. CONYERS: "Since the late 1950's, the pernicious practice of 'voter caging' has been used to discourage or prevent eligible voters from casting their vote. Recent elections have shown that caging tactics are not outdated, and in fact, have disenfranchised voters in recent midterm and Presidential elections. While caging efforts have traditionally been directed at minority communities, all voters are susceptible to these attempts at voter intimidation and suppression.
"The undemocratic practice of voter caging involves sending mail to voters at the addresses at which they are registered to vote. Should such mail be returned as undeliverable or without a return receipt, the voter's name is placed on a 'caging list.' These caging lists are then used to challenge a voter's registration or eligibility.
"In my home State of Michigan, I have seen firsthand how caging efforts are used to harass, bully, and ultimately disenfranchise, eligible voters. With a Michigan lawmaker advocating 'suppress the Detroit vote,' I cannot help but think that is synonymous with 'suppress the Black vote' as Detroit is 83% African American. These voter suppression campaigns always seem to target our most vulnerable voters--racial minorities, low-income people, homeless people, and college students.
"Caging tactics meant to suppress the vote do more than impede the right to vote. They threaten to erode the very core of our democracy. By eliminating barriers to the polls, we can help restore what has been missing from our elections--fairness, honesty, and integrity."
The [Congressional report on Impeachment] describes the second charge against President Trump: obstruction of Congress. President Trump did everything in his power to obstruct the House's impeachment inquiry. Following his direction not to cooperate with the inquiry, the White House and other agencies refused to produce a single document in response to Congressional subpoenas. President Trump also attempted to muzzle witnesses, threatening to damage their careers if they agreed to testify, and even attacked one witness during her live testimony before Congress.
To their great credit, many witnesses from across government--including from the National Security Council, the Department of State, and the Department of Defense--ignored the President's unlawful orders and cooperated with the inquiry. In the end, however, nine senior officials followed President Trump's direction and continue to defy duly authorized Congressional subpoenas.
Other Presidents have recognized their obligation to provide information to Congress under these circumstances. President Trump's stonewall, by contrast, was categorical, indiscriminate, and without precedent in American history. The Constitution grants the "sole Power of Impeachment" to the House of Representatives. Within our system of checks and balances, the President may not decide what constitutes a valid impeachment inquiry. Nor may he ignore lawful subpoenas for evidence and testimony or direct others to do so. If a President had such authority, he could block Congress from learning facts bearing upon impeachment in the House or trial in the Senate and could thus control a power that exists to restrain his own abuses.
The evidence shows clearly that President Trump has assumed this power for himself and, left unchecked, the President will continue to obstruct Congress through unlawful means.
Impeachment is the Constitution's final answer to a President who mistakes himself for a monarch. When the President concludes that free and fair elections threaten his continued grasp on power, and therefore seeks to corrupt or interfere with them, he denies the very premise of our constitutional system. The American people choose their leaders; a President who wields power to destroy opponents or manipulate elections is a President who rejects democracy itself.
As Madison recognized, 'In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it control itself.' Impeachment is the House's last and most extraordinary resort when faced with a President who threatens our constitutional system. It is a terrible power, but only 'because it was forged to counter a terrible power: the despot who deems himself to be above the law.' The consideration of articles of impeachment is always a sad and solemn undertaking. In the end, it is the House--speaking for the Nation as a whole--that must decide whether the President's conduct rises to the level of "high Crimes and Misdemeanors" warranting impeachment.
The House is Constitutionally entitled to the relevant information in an impeachment inquiry. The House has the power to issue subpoenas and demand compliance in an impeachment investigation.
The Supreme Court has long recognized that, "[w]ithout the power to investigate-- including of course the authority to compel testimony, either through its own processes or through judicial trial--Congress could be seriously handicapped in its efforts to exercise its constitutional function wisely and effectively." This principle is most compelling when the House exercises its "sole Power of Impeachment."
President Trump's obstruction of the impeachment inquiry violates fundamental Constitutional principles. The Senate should convict President Trump of Obstruction of Congress as charged in the Second Article of Impeachment.
President Trump unilaterally declared the House's investigation "illegitimate." President Trump's White House Counsel notified the House that "President Trump cannot permit his Administration to participate in this partisan inquiry under these circumstances." President Trump then directed his Administration categorically to withhold documents and testimony from the House.
The facts are undisputed. As charged in the Second Article of Impeachment, President Trump "[d]irect[ed] the White House to defy a lawful subpoena by withholding the production of documents" to the Committees; "[d]irect[ed] other Executive Branch agencies and offices to defy lawful subpoenas and withhold the production of documents and records from the Committees"; and "[d]irected current and former Executive Branch officials not to cooperate with the Committees."
|2017-18 Governor, House and Senate candidates on Government Reform:||Zoe Lofgren on other issues:|
Kevin de Leon
Tom Del Beccaro
Freshman class of 2019:
"Freshman class" means "not in Congress in January 2017", with exceptions:
* Special election, so sworn in other than Jan. 2019
** Served in Congress in a previous term
*** Lost recount or general election
Freshman class of January 2019 (Republicans):
FL-6:Waltz ; FL-15:Spano ; FL-17:Steube
MN-1:Hagedorn ; MN-8:Stauber
OH-12*:Balderson ; OH-16:Gonzalez
PA-9:Meuser ; PA-11**:Smucker ; PA-12*:Keller ; PA-13:Joyce ; PA-14:Reschenthaler
TN-2:Burchett ; TN-6:Rose ; TN-7:Green
TX-2:Crenshaw ; TX-3:Taylor ; TX-5:Gooden ; TX-6:Wright ; TX-21:Roy ; TX-27*:Cloud
VA-5:Riggleman ; VA-6:Cline
Freshman class of January 2019 (Democrats):
AZ-2**:Kirkpatrick ; AZ-9:Stanton
CA-49:Levin ; CA-10:Harder ; CA-21:Cox ; CA-25:Hill ; CA-39:Cisneros ; CA-45:Porter ; CA-48:Rouda
CO-2:Neguse ; CO-6:Crow
FL-26:Mucarsel-Powell ; FL-27:Shalala
IA-1:Finkenauer ; IA-3:Axne
IL-4:Garcia ; IL-6:Casten ; IL-14:Underwood
MA-3:Trahan ; MA-7:Pressley
MI-8:Slotkin ; MI-9:Levin ; MI-13:Tlaib ; MI-13*:Jones ; MI-11:Stevens
MN-2:Craig ; MN-3:Phillips ; MN-5:Omar
NJ-2:Van Drew ; NJ-3:Kim ; NJ-7:Malinowski ; NJ-11:Sherrill
NM-1:Haaland ; NM-2:Torres Small
NV-3:Lee ; NV-4**:Horsford
NY-14:Ocasio-Cortez ; NY-11:Rose ; NY-19:Delgado ; NY-22:Brindisi ; NY-25:Morelle
PA-4:Dean ; PA-5:Scanlon ; PA-6:Houlahan ; PA-7:Wild ; PA-17*:Lamb
TX-7:Fletcher ; TX-16:Escobar ; TX-29:Garcia ; TX-32:Allred
VA-2:Luria ; VA-7:Spanberger ; VA-10:Wexton
Email Contact Form
Cannon HOB 102, Washington, DC 20515