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House Passes Murphy-Backed Bill to Expand Voting Rights and Restore Ethics and Integrity in Government

Legislation includes two measures spearheaded by Murphy to reaffirm no taxpayer dollars will be used to fund congressional campaigns and to authorize congressional candidates to opt out of system

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Washington, March 3, 2021 | comments
WASHINGTON—The U.S. House of Representatives today passed legislation backed by U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy to expand voting rights, restore integrity in government, and place the needs of the American people ahead of the needs of special interests. H.R. 1, the For the People Act, includes two measures spearheaded by Murphy. The first reaffirms that no taxpayer dollars will be used to fund the small-dollar campaign financing system created by the bill for congressional elections. The second authorizes candidates for Congress to opt out of this system. Following passage of H.R. 1, Murphy sent a letter to the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives expressing her intention not to participate in the program.

“For too long, special interests in this country have had too much influence in our elections, pouring tons of dark money into campaigns, undermining the fairness of our political process, and preventing Congress from getting results for working families. I’m proud to vote in support of the For the People Act, which will move us a step closer to enacting comprehensive campaign finance reform that takes power away from the special interests and returns it to the people,” said Murphy.

H.R. 1 would establish a 6-to-1 matching system on small dollar donations up to $200 for House candidates who meet specified eligibility requirements and make specified certifications. This voluntary system has been incorrectly referred to as “taxpayer-funded” or “publicly-financed,” despite being neither. The matching funds come entirely from a “Freedom From Influence” fund created by the bill that receives money from an assessment paid on federal fines, penalties, and settlements in connection with the commission of certain tax crimes and corporate malfeasance, a change to the bill Murphy successfully helped secure when the House first passed this legislation in 2019. To increase public awareness of this change, Murphy successfully fought to include an amendment in the bill this year that clarifies that “no taxpayer funds will be deposited in the fund.”

Separately, Murphy successfully secured House passage of a bill, H. Res. 177, that allows Members of Congress or candidates for Congress to opt out of this small dollar matching system by sending a letter to the Clerk of the House. In her letter to the Clerk, Murphy articulated her reasons for declining to participate in the program.

“While I strongly support the goal of this system, which is to reduce the disproportionate influence of wealthy corporations on our political process and to mitigate the severe damage done by the pro-dark money Citizens United decision, I cannot in good conscience agree to fund my campaign through a process—however well-intentioned—that I voted to create,” wrote Murphy.

Full text of her letter can be found here and below. For more information on H.R. 1, click here.

The Honorable Cheryl L. Johnson
Clerk
U.S. House of Representatives
The Capitol
Room H154
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Ms. Johnson:


If enacted in its current form, H.R. 1, For the People Act of 2021, would establish a 6-to-1 matching system on small dollar donations up to $200 for House candidates who meet specified eligibility requirements and make specified certifications.  This voluntary system has been incorrectly referred to as “taxpayer-funded” or “publicly-financed.”  It is neither.  The matching funds come entirely from a “Freedom From Influence” Fund created by the bill.  The sole source of the money in this Fund is an assessment paid on federal fines, penalties, and settlements in connection with the commission of certain tax crimes and corporate malfeasance.

To be absolutely clear on this point, Congresswoman Elaine Luria and I offered an amendment to H.R. 1, stating expressly that “[n]o tax payer funds may be deposited into the Fund.”  It was adopted and incorporated into the bill.  I have no doubt opponents of the bill will continue to allege that the bill creates a taxpayer-funded or publicly-financed system, but those claims are false.  Under H.R. 1, no American will see the federal taxes they pay be used to support a candidate for House office.  Any financial contributions they do make to a candidate will remain purely voluntary.

In addition, I filed a House resolution, H. Res. 177, that was adopted by the House.  H. Res. 177 authorizes a candidate for the House, or a current Member of the House, to file a statement with the House Clerk “indicating whether or not the candidate or Member intends to be a participating candidate” in this small dollar financing system.

I write to express my intent not to participate in this small dollar financing system in 2022 or thereafter.  While I strongly support the goal of this system, which is to reduce the disproportionate influence of wealthy corporations on our political process and to mitigate the severe damage done by the pro-dark money Citizens United decision, I cannot in good conscience agree to fund my campaign through a process—however well-intentioned—that I voted to create.    

 

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