- Pelosi said lawmakers should “go to the beach and forget about everything” if the suffrage bills fail.
- A new book by two New York Times reporters details the failure of suffrage legislation.
- Pelosi clashed with the White House over the urgency of passing sweeping democratic reform measures.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said democracy would be in such jeopardy without new federal suffrage laws that lawmakers would have to “go to the beach and forget everything” if Congress did not pass a bill. voting rights law, according to a forthcoming book by two New York Times reporters.
Spoiler: The bill failed and Democrats never flocked to the beach.
When Democrats took control of the US Senate in January 2021, one of Pelosi’s top priorities was to pass HR1, also known as “For the People Act”, – the human rights bill. voting and democratic reform for Democrats.
“If the measure does not pass, then Pelosi said she believes American democracy is doomed and lawmakers might as well ‘go to the beach and forget it all,'” wrote authors Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns in their upcoming book “This Will Not Pass,” which Insider obtained ahead of its May 3 release.
The mammoth-sized legislative package included sweeping new voting rights measures that would normalize America’s state-by-state patchwork voting and election laws. It also included reforms to tighten campaign finance regulations and strengthen federal ethics rules.
It appeared to have significant momentum in the aftermath of the January 6 attack on the US Capitol and incumbent President Donald Trump’s continued denial of his defeat in the 2020 presidential election.
But not everyone shared Pelosi’s urgency to pass the bill – and she soon found herself clashing with top White House advisers over what she saw as a lack of urgency and commitment to measurement.
Pelosi, the authors wrote, became increasingly “frustrated” with the White House for not taking a more active role in lobbying for the bill on Capitol Hill.
In a meeting detailed in the book, Pelosi “ransacked” White House senior adviser Anita Dunn – behind Dunn’s back – for doubting the need for the legislation, the authors wrote. When White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain tried to defend Dunn, Pelosi also questioned Klain’s dedication to the bill, the book says.
And “while Pelosi was furious, Biden advisers were also annoyed by his attachment to the catch-all bill, particularly some of the proposed restrictions on campaign finance that they feared would embarrass Democrats more than Republicans,” the authors wrote.
The book does not specify which campaign finance reforms White House officials opposed in the bill.
But the bill included major elements of the DISCLOSE Act, a bill that would crack down on nonprofits and social welfare organizations that aren’t required to disclose that their donors are spending ‘dark money’ to influence the elections. He also called for an overhaul of the bipartisan Federal Election Commission, whose commissioners often disagree about how to enforce federal campaign finance laws.
Many Democrats have denounced the rise of “dark money” on the right. But Democrats are increasingly profiting from “dark” and hard-to-trace campaign spending. Liberal nonprofits are catching up and, by some accounts, even exceeding the “dark money” spending of conservative money in federal and state elections.
And Biden, who has so far declined to take executive action that would radically reshape the FEC, was “somewhat ambivalent” about the priorities of the legislation.
“The president’s primary concern was not gerrymandering or campaign finance reform, but electoral subversion by foreign enemies or domestic saboteurs,” the authors wrote. “Pelosi’s darling Bill has done nothing to address this threat.”
It was Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer who had a much harder hand in securing suffrage measures that drew near-nonexistent Republican support thanks to an evenly divided Senate under current rules. systematic obstruction.
The authors described Schumer as “exhausted” and “adrift” over the fate of voting rights as Republicans filibustered every bill he introduced.
The Senate leader was tasked with simultaneously responding to donor discontent and suffrage advocates’ anger over the lack of progress while also lobbying Democratic moderates. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to soften their longstanding opposition to weakening the filibuster.
Manchin helped draft and supported the Free Suffrage Act, a stripped-down version of HR 1 focused on the right to vote — and named for the late Congressman John Lewis that would restore and strengthen the Free Suffrage Act. voting rights of 1965.
In January 2022, Schumer introduced the two bills, combined into one package, to the ground — along with a plan to force a vote on filibuster reform.
But Manchin and Sinema joined 50 Senate Republicans in voting against a one-time change to the chamber’s filibuster rules that would make it easier for Democrats to pass the measures along party lines, dealing the fatal blow to the push for Democratic voting rights.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki, for her part, offered a much more optimistic view of the state of American democracy than Pelosi’s reported comment that lawmakers should “give up and go to the beach.” if voting rights and democratic reform protections do not pass.
“My advice to anyone who’s frustrated, sad, angry, pissed off: feel those emotions, go to a kickboxing class, have a margarita, do what you need to do this weekend, then wake up Monday morning , we have to keep fighting,” Psaki said in an interview with ABC’s “The View” after Bills’ defeat.
Pelosi’s office did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.