We can achieve our democratic ideals now by passing the For the People Act
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It has been the highest honor of my life serving New Mexico and our country in Congress, and leaving the Senate in January will be bittersweet. I look back on my time in the Senate and House enormously proud of what we’ve accomplished together.

Even in a divided Congress, we enacted the most significant environmental reform law in a generation. When I authored The Frank Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act, I worked hard to gain bipartisan support, but knew it would be a difficult task to pass the legislation in the Senate. But we passed it — unanimously — and because of our hard work and collaboration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finally has the powers to protect our communities and environment from toxic chemicals like asbestos.

But one of the most important pieces of legislation I introduced — the one that is most urgently needed to move our country forward — is stuck in Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s (R-Ky.) legislative graveyard. The For the People Act or H.R.1, which the House of Representatives passed as the first bill of the new Congress in 2019, would fix many of the root causes of government dysfunction that have brought our democracy to a crisis point. The bill would end political gerrymandering, restore and expand voting rights, fight foreign interference in our elections, and empower the voices of everyday Americans over secretive political mega-donors.

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Americans are sick of the bitter, partisan divide that has taken hold of Congress. Many feel that their elected officials are so concerned with fundraising for the next election that they fail to listen to their own constituents. I believe that there should be more, not less incentive for Congress to work in a bipartisan manner. We can achieve our democratic ideals now by passing the For the People Act.

McConnell and Senate Republicans have refused to even debate this bill. They have no interest in limiting the power of corporate influence in our elections because they benefit from it. But without real reform, we’re facing an uphill battle to delivering real results for the American people. The vast majority of Americans agree — we must protect ourselves and our elders from the coronavirus, act on climate change, raise the minimum wage, expand access to health care, and restructure our economy so it benefits American workers and their families, not Wall Street.

The American people overwhelmingly support action on each of these priorities. But the Republican Senate does nothing on these issues — because the Republican Senate leadership listens to special interests, not the voters who elect them. That’s why, even after the American people chose to chart a different path forward in November, Republicans are even now rushing to confirm extreme judicial nominees instead of acting on pandemic relief.

And that’s why we have to prioritize real democracy reform by passing the For the People Act.

Even though President TrumpDonald TrumpSouth Carolina Senate adds firing squad as alternative execution method Ex-Trump aide Pierson won't run for Dallas-area House seat House Oversight panel reissues subpoena for Trump's accounting firm MORE and the far right are attempting to sow doubt about a legitimate election because they don’t like the results, American voters still retain the ultimate power of the ballot box. Millions of Americans faced down a pandemic and efforts at voter suppression to make their voices heard in historic numbers.

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But the fight is not over. The American people decided to change our leadership in Washington in November, but facing the real possibility of a divided Congress, we must renew our demand that our democracy work for the people. Fixing our broken electoral system and passing the For the People Act should be one of the first items on the agenda. American democracy has earned a top spot on the to-do list — because action on the other crises like the pandemic and climate change will only follow from comprehensive democracy reform.

I am heartened and inspired by the champions of democracy reform that will carry this fight forward even after I am no longer in the Senate. That’s what’s powerful about the democratic experiment — it’s a constant work in progress that asks all of us to participate.

There is no denying that our country’s founders constructed a system that subjugated and enslaved Indigenous people. Our nation’s history is one of a series of abolitionist, suffragette and civil rights movements that have pushed our country closer to achieving liberty and justice for all.

Like those before us have done during turning points in our country’s history, we can make our system better. We must — because we know that America is at its best when the broadest coalition of voters choose our leaders who understand the different challenges we face and have concrete plans to address them. When we pass the For The People Act, we can come closer to achieving our ideals than any time before. My name was not on the ballot in 2020, but I am continuing to campaign for democracy this year and long into the future. Our work is not done — let’s continue to fight for our democracy together.

Tom UdallTom UdallOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Haaland courts moderates during tense confirmation hearing | GOP's Westerman looks to take on Democrats on climate change | White House urges passage of House public lands package Udalls: Haaland criticism motivated 'by something other than her record' Senate approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee MORE is a U.S. Senator from New Mexico.