(WASHINGTON, DC.) – Today the House Judiciary Committee is conducting the first congressional hearing on H.R. 1, the For the People Act of 2019, comprehensive legislation designed to restore our democracy, strengthen voting rights, reduce the influence of big money in our elections, and restore ethics and integrity in government. H.R. 1 includes two bills previously introduced by Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08), who serves as the Vice Chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution: the Get Foreign Money Out of U.S. Elections Act (H.R. 746) and the Executive Branch Comprehensive Ethics Enforcement Act (H.R. 745). H.R. 746 appears in Division B, Title IV, Subtitle B, Part I of H.R. 1, while H.R. 745 appears in Division C, Title VIII, Subtitle D (see more on H.R. 1 here).

Raskin’s first bill, the Get Foreign Money Out of U.S. Elections Act (H.R. 746), would close a campaign finance loophole that allows foreign-owned, foreign-controlled, and foreign-influenced corporations to funnel unlimited cash into U.S. elections. Although current law bars individual foreign nationals from personally contributing to federal campaigns, foreign political spending can still take place via American-registered corporations that are foreign subsidiaries, foreign-owned, or foreign-controlled and influenced, all thanks to the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling.

“When the Supreme Court invented corporate free speech rights in Citizens United, it created a massive foreign money loophole in our country’s campaign finance system,” explained Raskin. “The problem is that domestically registered corporations can be taken-over, bought-up, controlled, or influenced by foreign corporations and foreign nationals, and this means foreign powers have an easy and perfectly lawful way to funnel foreign money into American elections.”

Rep. Abigail Spanberger (VA-07), who is an original cosponsor of the legislation, said: “Today, I’m proud to stand alongside Congressman Raskin to help introduce this bill, which would close the loophole that permits under-the-radar foreign political spending in U.S. elections. By pushing back against the threat of foreign financial influence, we can bring greater transparency to our campaign finance system, strengthen the integrity of our elections, and help restore trust in our system of government. As a former CIA officer, I have tremendous concerns about the efforts and ability of foreign governments and entities to attempt to influence our elections and our citizens. The notion of our electorate potentially being influenced by unlimited foreign cash should be a terrifying prospect for all Americans, and Congress must take concrete steps to prevent foreign influence in our democratic process.”

Raskin’s second bill, the Executive Branch Comprehensive Ethics Enforcement Act (H.R. 745), would strengthen the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), the independent agency responsible for preventing and resolving conflicts of interest within the Executive Branch. Although OGE is able to identify violations of ethics laws and regulations, it currently lacks the authority to compel compliance. H.R. 745 would empower OGE to enforce federal ethics laws and regulations within a strong system of checks and balances.

These changes will help empower OGE as an ethics watchdog,” Raskin said. “Our proposal ensures that OGE functions as an independent, professional ethics agency with the legal authority and tools to carry out its mandate. It would permit OGE to finally enforce the federal ethics laws and regulations it is tasked with overseeing so it can fulfill its essential watchdog function.”

Original cosponsors of this legislation include House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10) and Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (MD-07).

The legislation earned the support of good government groups such as Public Citizen, Common Cause, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Democracy 21, Project on Government Oversight (POGO), Demand Progress Action the Sunlight Foundation, and End Citizens United. Read more about H.R. 745 here.