As the 100th member of the U.S. House of Representatives recently signed on to the Fair Elections Now Act (H.R.1826.), the Fair Elections Now Coalition has called for an urgent passage of the bill.
The bipartisan act, which was introduced by Representative John Larson, a Connecticut Democrat, and Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican, offers candidates for Congress a way to run for office without having to rely on big money contributors.
Specifically, it provides a public grant to those who qualify by collecting 1,500 contributions from people in their state in amounts of up to $100. After reaching that threshold, the candidates can continue to raise small contributions that are matched on a four-to-one basis up to a limit.
The coalition—which includes groups such as the Brennan Center for Justice, Change Congress and Democracy Matters—has said the only way to have a fair and balanced political debate is by allowing members of Congress to focus their attention on issues other than the pressures of fundraising.
"[The healthcare], energy, and financial regulation debates [show] the power and influence of the millions of dollars well-heeled interests spend in the political process in order to tilt public policy in their favor," it stressed.
The Senate version of the act is sponsored by Democrats Dick Durbin of Illinois and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.