H.R. 1 Election Reform Bill Will be a ‘Disaster’ for the US

Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he believes the House Democrats’ massive voter registration and campaign procedure reform bill—H.R. 1—will be a “disaster” for the country if it is passed through the Senate.

The bill, also called the For the People Act, was passed in the House late on March 3 with a largely party-line vote of 220-210. It seeks to impose federal requirements on state voting procedures across the United States.

“I think it would be a disaster for our country,” Trump told Fox News’s Maria Bartiromo in a wide-ranging interview, that also touched upon issues including President Joe Biden’s immigration policies, COVID-19 vaccines, and a potential 2024 presidential run.

The bill spans nearly 800 pages and would impose a number of voting and election changes, such as requiring disclosure of donors to religious and nonprofit advocacy groups and enabling incumbent congressmen and their challengers to receive a salary from campaign funds.

It would also force states to implement a minimum of 15 days of early voting, offer mail-in ballots, facilitate online voter registration, and allow no-excuse absentee balloting.

Critics have argued that if the bill becomes law in its present form, it would give the federal government the power to gain control over the election process by imposing mandates on the states. They said it would eliminate basic security protocols that states have in place and interfere with the ability of states to determine the qualifications and eligibility of voters, not allow citizens to participate and speak freely in the political process, and fail to ensure the accuracy of voter registration lists.

“It would be very unfair that Democrats should use COVID in order to do things that they can’t believe they got away with, what they did, and they didn’t get their legislatures to approve, and by the way in the Constitution, you have to do that,” Trump said.

“In the Constitution, it says the state legislatures have to approve changes—they made massive changes early—just before the election in some cases, and they made massive changes that not even mentioning all of the other things and all of the dishonesty in the election, the state legislatures did not approve these changes. Therefore, they’re not allowed,” the former president added.

On March 3, a group of 20 Republican attorneys general signed a letter (pdf) calling on the leaders of the U.S. House and Senate to consider a number of Constitutional flaws in the bill. They argued that it would unconstitutionally force states to permit election measures like voting by mail.

A number of other provisions in the bill also appear to contradict the Constitution, including a requirement for states to accept late ballots, an override of state voter identification laws, and a mandate that states conduct redistricting through unelected commissions, according to the letter.

The bill, if it becomes law, Trump said, would make it extremely difficult for Republicans to be elected.

“What will happen is the Democrats will be able to do what they did in the last—in the 2020 election, and even worse, potentially even worse,” Trump charged.

The Senate’s version of the bill faces uncertain prospects in the upper chamber, which has 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans. It would need 60 votes to pass. Every Republican voted against the House version of the bill, as well as Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.).

Biden has said he would sign the bill into law if it reaches his desk.

Masooma Haq and Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.

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