Member organizations of the Declaration for American Democracy coalition issued calls for President Biden to state his continued commitment to transforming our democracy as part of his upcoming Joint Address to Congress on April 28, 2021.
We urge President Biden to continue to make progress towards his promise of actualizing policies that create a full, participatory democracy by highlighting in his Joint Address the need to pass the For the People Act. This sweeping package of reforms will get big money out of politics, ensure our freedom to vote, and guarantee that congressional districts are drawn to give fair representation for all.
Member organizations who called on the administration include: Blue Wave Postcard Movement, Center for American Progress, DemCast USA, Democracy Initiative, Demos, Friends of the Earth, Indivisible, People for the American Way, Progressive Turnout Project, and Public Citizen.
In addition, Blue Future, an organization dedicated to building a national youth movement that will inspire, mobilize and invest in young people for a brighter tomorrow, issued an open letter to President Biden to strengthen our democracy, signed by nearly 600 young people across the country.
As the bill continues to advance in the Senate as S.1, now is the time to double down on efforts to realize the true promise of American democracy—a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Recent polling shows that 83% of Americans across the political spectrum say they support the For the People Act. The passage of the For the People Act must be paired with the passage of two other critical bills, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act (H.R. 4) and recognizing the District of Columbia as a state (S. 51).
Once the system is un-rigged, the Administration and Congress can finally enact policies on the issues that Americans care most about, like affordable healthcare, a fair minimum wage, clean air and water, racial justice, and so many others.
Highlights from the letters and messages to the administration can be found below:
Blue Future: Open Letter to President Biden from young people nationwide about strengthening our democracy – “During your campaign, you had also expressed support for actualizing policies that create a full, participatory democracy as a first priority in 2021 and beyond. Now is the time to act and build on your long history of fighting to end the dominance of big money in politics and protecting the right to vote by using the bully pulpit of the President to push these reforms forward.”
Blue Wave Postcard Movement: President Biden should state his continued commitment to transforming our democracy and passing the For the People Act in this year’s joint address to Congress – “As President Biden currently confronts a historic set of challenges—carrying us out of a crippling pandemic, rebuilding our economy, advancing racial justice, grappling with climate change, and more—this year’s address at the end of April will serve as a critical moment to chart a new way forward and recommit to democracy reform at the 100-day mark of his administration.”
Center for American Progress: Momentum Grows for Bold Democracy Reform – “Big momentum grows for the For the People Act. And President Biden should continue to help propel this once-in-a-generation legislation forward. One important route: Pres. Biden should use his upcoming address to the joint session of Congress to demand passage.”
Demcast: Biden’s Joint Address Should Include Comprehensive Democracy Reform – “As we all tune in for the State of the Union expected on April 28, we in the grassroots activist community hope that President Biden will make his commitment to transforming our democracy clear. During this unprecedented time, the American people deserve to know that the Biden administration will make the For the People Act a priority.”
Democracy Initiative: President Biden’s Address Must Tackle State of Our Democracy – “Our 75 partner organizations representing 45 million members are united in the understanding that democracy reform is not an end in itself; it is the condition for achieving racial, social, and economic justice and building a better world for us all. The transformational democracy reforms in the For the People Act, together with restoring the Voting Rights Act and granting DC statehood, are required to help pave the way for meaningful progress on racial justice, protecting the climate, workers’ rights, immigration, healthcare, and more… As we all tune in for the president’s address on April 28, our coalition expects President Biden will make his commitment to transforming our democracy clear.”
Demos: To Keep His Promises to the Black Community, Pres. Biden Must Prioritize Building an Inclusive Democracy – “President Biden’s oath to “heal the soul of the nation” is a call for unity. However, this dream for a more unified nation cannot be attained without a just democracy where everyone is truly heard. In his upcoming address to a joint session of Congress, the president must speak to the urgent need to build a more inclusive democracy if he is serious about achieving his other priorities and taking the first step along the path of healing that he desires for the country.”
Friends of the Earth: President Biden should urge passage of the For the People Act in his first State of the Union – “…Progress on every issue that Friends of the Earth works on — from climate change, to sustainable farming, to the clean-up of toxic waste — has been and will be hampered without fundamental reforms to our political system. And our democracy is deeply damaged. We need a political system where all voices can be heard…Our planet depends on it.”
Indivisible: Biden should use his first State of the Union address to commit to passing the For the People Act: “President Biden has already shared his support for the For the People Act on social media and in a press release. But the American people need to hear from him directly. And his first State of the Union address is the perfect opportunity to acknowledge that, although our democracy has taken a series of pretty devastating body blows over the last four years, there is a solution on the horizon. It’s the For the People Act, and Democrats should stop at nothing to get this bill signed into law.”
People for the American Way: President Biden: Include Democracy Reform in Your Upcoming Joint Session Address – “People For the American Way thanks both the president and vice president for taking a strong stand on behalf of H.R. 1, along with the 220 House members who cast their votes in favor of this historic legislation. As attention shifts to the Senate, the administration must continue to send the message that it’s time to get the For the People Act (H.R. 1/S. 1) over the finish line, it having languished for nearly two years in Senator McConnell’s legislative graveyard.”
Progressive Turnout Project: 361 Reasons to Pass the For the People Act (And Counting) – “We urge President Biden to use his April 28 address to make the case for the For the People Act directly to voters. Whatever it takes — yes, including eliminating the filibuster — we must take action now, before it’s too late. Building back better starts with protecting free and fair elections.”
Public Citizen: Biden: Be Vocal on H.R. 1. Now. Our Democracy Can’t Wait! – “The president’s annual joint address to Congress is an American tradition – a seminal moment when the president shares their ideas on solving the nation’s problems and sets course for what must be accomplished in the year ahead….Biden must chart a clear path forward that will restore our faith in democracy. This starts by championing the For the People Act (S.1) during his first State of the Union address and urging its passage.”
What does the For the People Act (S. 1/H.R. 1) do?
The For the People Act is a sweeping package to realize the promise of our democracy, get big money out of politics, ensure our freedom to vote, and guarantee that congressional districts are drawn to give fair representation for all.
Together we can realize a democracy that represents, reflects, and responds to all of us.
Gets big money out of politics.
The For the People Act (H.R. 1):
- counters the Citizens United decision
- establishes a voluntary small donor public financing system for House races
- enacts the DISCLOSE Act
- reveals who's funding dark money groups
- strengthens the prohibition on campaign spending by foreign nationals
- enacts the Honest Ads Act
- reveals who's buying online political ads
- enacts the Stand By Every Ad Act
- requires political ad buyers to reveal their top donors and chief officials
- mandates greater transparency from tax-exempt organizations
- requires publicly traded companies to consult with shareholders before spending on politics
- leads to disclosure of contributions by government contractors
- holds presidential inaugural committees accountable
- pilots a voucher program, so voters can contribute to candidates of their choice
- establishes a small donor matching system for Congressional elections
- reforms the presidential public financing program
- empowers more people to run by allowing federal candidates who are not incumbents to use part of their campaign funds for childcare and certain other expenses
- encourages small dollar donations to political party committees
- overhauls the FEC
- cracks down on Super PAC-Candidate coordination
- requires disposal of unused campaign funds
Makes voting simpler, safer, and fairer.
The For the People Act (H.R. 1):
- commits to restore and update the full protections of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) — the most effective civil rights legislation in the history of the United States
- commits to protect and promote Native American voting rights
- ensures access to voting for individuals with disabilities
- supports DC statehood
- supports federal voting rights for Americans living in US territories
- enacts the Redistricting Reform Act of 2019
- bans partisan and racial gerrymandering
- adopts independent redistricting commissions
- combats cyberattacks, election hacking, and disinformation campaigns
- promotes online voter registration in federal elections nationwide
- requires automatic voter registration for federal elections nationwide
- allows same day registration for federal elections nationwide
- prevents voter roll purges
- makes registration deadlines line up with public holidays
- requires USPS to remind movers to update their voter registration
- creates grants to boost youth involvement in election activities
- provide additional state funding to update registration processes
- prohibits interference with voter registration
- standardizes voter registrations across states
- expands pre-registration for future voters currently 16 or older
- prohibits voter caging
- enacts the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act
- restores federal voting rights to those disenfranchised by a prior criminal conviction
- adopt paper ballots
- strengthen provisional balloting
- create a nationwide standard for early voting
- expand opportunities to vote by mail
- protect voting rights for absent military and overseas voters
- provides grants for more poll workers
- enhances enforcement of existing standards
- prevents conflicts of interest with chief state election officials
- allows public universities to become voter registration agencies
- lets students vote where they attend school
- requires a weeks' notice to change polling places
- allows a sworn statement option for voter ID requirements
- makes absentee ballots postage-free
- helps states process absentee ballots
- strengthens voter information support
- standardizes polling place hours of operation
- improves the Election Assistance Commission
- funds election security upgrades
- increases communication about threats to state election systems
Holds public officials accountable.
The For the People Act (H.R. 1):
- requires sitting presidents, vice presidents, and major-party candidates for those offices to disclose their tax returns
- requires a code of ethics for the United States Supreme Court
- updates and enforces the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)
- increases federal lobbying disclosure requirements
- requires presidential appointees to recuse themselves from government matters to which the president or their spouse is a party
- ensures easy public access to lobbying information
- requires the president and vice president to divest from any personal financial holdings that could pose a conflict of interest with their official duties
- demands transparency for White House ethics waivers
- strengthen ethics enforcement in the executive branch
- requires more disclosure of political donations and fundraising by cabinet members and other senior appointees
- makes presidents-elect adopt and enforce ethics rules for their transition teams
- requires all senior executive branch appointees to take an ethics pledge
- restricts travel on private aircraft by cabinet members and other senior appointees
- makes Members of Congress pay any awards or settlements in connection to claims of workplace harassment
- prohibits House members from serving on the boards of for-profit companies
- bars Members of Congress and staff from trying to make laws to make themselves rich
- requires candidates to disclose if they get donations from registered lobbyists
- creates a searchable, public online portal for all reports to Congress
- requires reporting of outside compensation for congressional staff
What is the Declaration for American Democracy?
A Coalition of 200+ Member Organizations
The Declaration for American Democracy is an anti-oppression coalition working together to make the promise of democracy real for all of us.
We believe our democratic systems, institutions, and leaders must reflect, represent, and respect the diverse, multicultural nation that we are and have always been. For democracy to work for all of us, it must include all of us and address the deep systemic, institutional challenges that continue to block meaningful progress to this day. As America’s diversity continues to grow, so must our democracy.
Today our democracy faces crises on multiple fronts -- compounded by a deeply problematic history that has held us back from achieving an inclusive and equitable multiracial nation since our founding. Powerful corporations and wealthy special interests use their money and influence to shape public policy priorities. Extremist politicians are putting up deliberate barriers to block access to the ballot box and silence the voices of Black, Brown, Indigenous, Latinx, AAPI, low-income, LGBTQIA, disability, and other marginalized communities. State legislatures are manipulating Congressional maps to allow politicians to pick their voters and hoard power for their political parties. And our government has failed to respond after four years of a corrupt administration and Supreme Court decisions gutting voting rights protections and anti-corruption laws.
Working together, we are committed to passing national standards, including the For the People Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and DC Statehood, to transform our political system and move our country closer to realizing the true promise of democracy. However, we will not be satisfied with any single reform and will continue to press for the structural changes necessary to rebalance power for the people and undo the historic harms that have barred communities that have been marginalized and denied political power since the founding of the United States.
We believe people of color, young people, people with disabilities, language minorities, and other historically disenfranchised communities should have equal access to the ballot and be equitably represented in government. We believe everyday people should have a stronger voice in elections than wealthy donors and special interests. And we believe our government should be transparent and accountable to the people.
Together we must ensure the freedom to vote is a fundamental American right and that the people -- regardless of our color, our background, or our zip code - hold the power, not the wealthy and corporations.
Therefore, we, the Declaration for American Democracy, are committed to working together to achieve this vision and model our values in how we work together. As a coalition, we will invest in each other and treat each other with respect. We will acknowledge and learn from our past, including the legacy of racism and white supremacy in our movement and democratic institutions. In decision making we will center Black, Brown, Indigenous, Latinx, AAPI, LGBTQIA, people with disabilities, language minorities, as well as other impacted communities. And we will invest in each other through professional development, collaborative grantmaking, and shared projects.