WASHINGTON. D.C. – U.S. Rep. Blake Moore’s one-man crusade for bipartisanship in Congress is drawing attention from Capitol Hill insiders.
In a Feb. 10 article in the inside-the-Beltway journal Roll Call, Moore was cited by several unnamed Democratic representatives as “… someone they could see themselves co-sponsoring legislation with.”
The freshman representative from Utah’s 1st Congressional District has apparently convinced at least some of his colleagues that his promise to emphasize “productivity rather than partisanship” wasn’t just a campaign slogan.
The problem for Moore may be finding someone across the aisle that shares the same enthusiasm for political cooperation, however.
Late Wednesday, for example, the narrow Democratic majority in the House of Representatives rammed through H.R. 1, their controversial voting rights and election reform legislation.
The massive proposal, which Democrats dubbed the “For the People Act of 2021,” passed the House by a vote of 220 to 210. No Republican voted for the measure, but a single Democrat – Rep. Bernie Thompson of Mississippi — joined GOP representatives in opposing it.
Thompson said that his surprise defection from lock-step party loyalty was motivated by the concerns of his constituents about the far-ranging provisions of the election overhaul.
Critics of H.R. 1 say the bill should have been named the “For the People in Congress Act.”
If passed by the Senate and signed by President Joe Biden, H.R. 1 would implement automatic voter registration, restore the franchise for convicted felons, prohibit states from purging voter rolls and expand both early and absentee voting opportunities.
The measure would also require states to establish independent redistricting commissions to redraw congressional districts every decade (a concept that Utah has already embraced).
Finally, the bill establishes a new public financing system for congressional and presidential elections that would obligate taxpayers to match small-dollar donations to candidates on a 6–to-1 ratio.
During a telephone town hall with 1st District constituents on the eve of the H.R. 1 vote, Moore condemned the proposal as an attempt to “nationalize our elections” by usurping the prerogatives of the individual states.
Closer to home, Moore admitted that he and other Republicans on the House Natural Resources Committee were recently blindsided by the introduction of H.R. 803 by Democratic lawmakers.
Titled the “Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act,” H.R. 803 would create an additional 1.5 million acres of wilderness in the western United States. Because wilderness is the most restrictive of federal land classifications, Moore says the Democratic proposal, which was developed without input from state and local officials, “threatens the livelihoods of those who work in the extractive industries at a time when our country is still reeling from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”
H.R. 803 is a blatant act of partisanship, according to Moore.
“Unfortunately,” he says, “Democrats brought … this legislative package with major economic and environmental consequences for our constituents … to the House floor without a single committee mark-up or hearing. The fact that the bill was scheduled for consideration on the floor before the Natural Resources Committee was even formally organized with its new members is evidence of a broken process.”
To protect the interests of Utahns, Moore introduced commonsense amendments to H.R. 803 that would exempt unhealthy forests from wilderness designation, preserve preexisting recreational activities in new wilderness areas and strengthening local input in the land designation process.
While Democrats allowed those suggestions to be considered on the House floor, Moore says another 50 GOP amendments were denied.
The freshman congressman says that he hopes that “there is … still room for bipartisan collaboration on the Natural Resources Committee.”
But Moore also admits that “ … my eyes are getting opened to the way this place really operates.”