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Rep. Schrader’s First Act of 116th: Introducing Good Government Reforms

Reforms Include Legislation to Curb Member Pay During Shutdown, Remove Big Money from Politics through Campaign Finance Reform, Increase Transparency Around Presidential Inaugural Committee Fundraising

In his first act of the 116th Congress, as we near the end of the second week of the government shutdown, Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-05) today reintroduced a series of government reform bills to increase transparency and accountability, and give a voice back to the people. His bills include:

  • The Hold Congress Accountable Act, legislation to reduce the salary of Members of Congress in the event of a government shutdown for as long as the shutdown continues;
  • A constitutional amendment to reform campaign finance laws, removing the influence of big money in our government and giving power back to the people;
  • The Presidential Inaugural Committee Oversight Act which would increase transparency and accountability around the fundraising and spending of Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) money.

“We are a democracy of the people, by the people, and for the people – that means the leaders we elect should be given their power by the individual, not by big money,” said Rep. Schrader. “It also means that when we are elected, we are entrusted with great responsibility, the most important of which is passing a budget. Just as I said a year ago when we faced yet another shutdown, I wouldn’t expect a student government to operate this way, let alone the government of the most powerful nation in the world. We are also expected to remain transparent, especially around money raised or spent in the name of our elected offices. I am proud to make my first act of this new Congress reintroducing these good-government reforms because the core foundation of our democracy relies on the power in the voice of the people and depends on a Congress that works.”

Rep. Schrader first introduced a version of the Hold Congress Accountable Act in 2013 immediately following the start of the government shutdown in October of that year, and has reintroduced the bill every Congress since. Cosponsors of the bill in the 116th Congress include Reps. Jim Cooper (TN-05), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Seth Moulton (MA-06), Dave Loebsack (IA-02), Lou Correa (CA-46), Peter Welch (VT-At Large), Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01), Brad Schneider (IL-10), Abigail Spanberger (VA-07), Max Rose (NY-11).

The Congressman’s constitutional amendment, which he first introduced in response to the Citizens United vs FEC Supreme Court decision in 2010, would limit the amount of money that special interests, corporations, and unions may spend on elections. It would give Congress the ability to regulate campaign contributions to candidates running for federal office as well as how they spend their funds on advertisements. The amendment would also give that same control to the States for state-wide elections. Additionally, the amendment would prohibit any foreign agents or citizens from contributing to candidates for any public office, or spending money in any way intended to influence the outcome of elections in the United States.

Congressman Schrader’s bill would establish three basic requirements for all future Presidential Inauguration Committees:

  1. The committee must provide the FEC with a full list of expenditures for all committee business with regular updates until the committee is disbanded.
  2. A restriction that funds raised be spent only on official activities and not on lavish salaries or bonuses.
  3. A mandate that any surplus funds be given to a charity organization.

Currently, the Federal Election Commission requires every PIC to disclose basic information about donations to the committee; however, no such disclosure requirements or regulations exist around the spending of the funds. Additionally, unlike political campaign laws which regulate not only disclosures but fundraising and spending, there exist no laws around how each PIC may or may not spend the money it raises under the name of the President of the United States.