Florida congressional delegation breaks on party lines over election bill
Image via AP.

Congressiononal leaders in front of U.S. Capitol.
Legislation impacts redistricting, vote ID laws, public financing and slew of issues.

The U.S. House passed sweeping election changes in the For The People Act (HR 1) on a near party line vote Wednesday.

Democrats heralded the legislation as expanding voting rights and restoring integrity in government. Meanwhile, Republicans cast the language as corrupting the system to make it easy for ineligible voters to cast ballots and letting federal officials take over redistricting.

One Mississippi Democrat joined Republicans to vote no, with the bill passing 220-210. Every Democrat in Florida’s delegation voted for it and every Republican voted against it.

U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a Winter Park Democrat, praised the legislation. At the same time, she said she would not participate in a small dollar matching system.

“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,” she said in a letter to the House Clerk.

The National Republican Congressional Committee castigated the legislation and sent out a list of targeted Democrats who voted for it, including Murphy and Pinellas Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist.

“House Democrats are once again putting their own self-interest before the American people by funneling over $7 million in public funds to their reelection campaigns, and it will cost them at the ballot box in 2022,” said NRCC Spokeswoman Torunn Sinclair.

Florida delegation members made their thoughts known across a variety of channels.

Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Sarasota Republican, ahead of the vote tweeted: “The U.S. House begins debate today on an election “reform” bill that allows politicians to use your tax dollars to pay for their campaigns. It’s called the ‘For the People Act’ (HR 1) but of course just the opposite is true. Nancy Pelosi’s 800-page monstrosity would federalize elections, overrule state laws against ballot harvesting and eliminate safeguards against fraud. Even the liberal ACLU has criticized the bill for violating free speech. We need to restore public confidence in elections, not further erode it. I will be voting against this very dangerous bill — for the people!”

Rep. Kathy Castor, a Tampa Democrat, said in part: “We learned this year how fragile our democracy is — and how much citizens value the right to participate. Floridians are fed up with outsized, monied special interests, and the ceaseless attempts to make voting more complicated. While the GOP-controlled Florida Legislature is doing all it can to make it more difficult to vote, the For The People Act is ambitious and transformative legislation to put power back in the hands of the people and restore the faith that government works for them, not the special interests. Importantly for Florida, this legislation ensures that individuals who have completed felony sentences have their full rights restored. In 2018, Floridians overwhelmingly voted to restore the voting rights of returning citizens. Yet, in a slap in the face to Florida voters, the GOP erected more voting barriers to block an estimated 1.4 million people from being able to vote in the 2020 election. It’s a shameful modern-day Jim Crow disenfranchisement effort by GOP politicians and must be addressed.”

Crist tweeted: “Proud to support For The People Act, historic reform bill that includes priorities overwhelmingly championed by Floridians: Restoring right to vote to returning citizens; Expanding vote by mail and early voting; Supporting fair districts and more!”

Rep. Neal Dunn, a Panama City Republican, tweeted: “House Democrats continue to prove that they are here to serve themselves, not you. Today’s vote tramples on the Constitution and steals your taxpayer dollars to pay for their own political campaigns. It’s shameful. No one should ever put politicians before our people.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Fort Walton Beach Republican, tweeted: “For all their accusations about Republicans harming Democracy, House Democrats have jeopardized the legitimacy of every future U.S. election by passing H.R. 1. It erodes the verification process in voting, literally banning state-enacted photo ID safeguards. House Democrats apparently think voting is less worthy of identity protection than boarding aircraft or buying cigarettes. Election fraud should be investigated, not legitimized through the provisions of this legislation that legalize ballot harvesting and ensure a growing, unmanageable universe of mail ballots. If Democrats were serious about cleaning up Washington, they would not have blocked a vote on my amendment to ban campaign contributions from lobbyists and special interest PACs.”

Rep. Scott Franklin, a Lakeland Republican, said: “While Democrats call this bill ‘For the People,’ it’s really ‘For the Politicians’ — a massive ploy to publicly fund campaigns with federal money, remove state control of elections, forbid photo IDs for voter identification, and allow the IRS to investigate political views of organizations before granting tax-exempt status. These are not the values of an open and free democracy. At a time when we should be working to open schools, vaccinate Americans and strengthen our economy, it’s revealing that Democrats have chosen to make this their signature legislation.”

Murphy said: “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.”

Rep. Michael Waltz, a St. Augustine Republican, tweeted: “HR 1 is yet another attempt from the Far Left to disregard our Constitution to facilitate their obvious political power grab & progressive agenda. Their motto is clearly: To win the game, change the rules. Here’s why I voted no. HR 1 goes against our Constitution, radically changing our elections: Allows 16 year olds to vote; Dissolves voter ID laws; Gives DC bureaucrats power to redraw districts; Opens door for taxpayer-funded campaigns; Promotes fraud prone mail-in ballots as new standard. Florida got it right in 2020. Our elections were safe & secure AND results were reported immediately. The LAST thing we need is the DC swamp dictating how we conduct our elections. But now, Dems want to inhibit our success by implementing a one-size-fits-all approach to ALL elections, taking constitutional powers away from local & state governments. No thank you.”

Rep. Darren Soto, a Kissimmee Democrat, said: “The fight for voting rights is as urgent as ever. While the Florida Legislature works to pass voter suppression laws based on the ‘Big Lie,’ I’m proud to join House Democrats in passing historic legislation that will make it easier, not harder, to vote. Our For the People Act will protect the right to vote, ensure the integrity of our elections, crack down on lobbyists and Washington insiders, hold elected officials accountable and end the era of special-interest money in politics. Let’s return power back to the American people, protect the rights of all voters and restore the promise of voter equality for all Floridians!”

Rep. Frederica Wilson, a Hollywood Democrat, tweeted: “Tonight, the House Democrats passed the For The People Act and the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. America: We’ve got your back!”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Sonja Fitch

    March 4, 2021 at 8:06 am

    The nerve of these goptrump death cult and the GOPQ sociopaths is pathetic. There is no Republican Party ! These losers are Racist! Vote Democrat up and down ballot for the elections in 2022.

  • Arlene

    March 5, 2021 at 12:22 pm

    I say, hurry up 2022 so the Republicans can make in control FOR THE PEOPLE.

Comments are closed.


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