Friday, October 28, 2005

Why Does Congress Not Want The Poor To Vote?

From The New Standard:

The Federal Housing Finance Reform Act of 2005, which passed the House of Representatives yesterday by a vote of 331-90, contains a provision that establishes a national fund for developing affordable housing, by skimming 5 percent off the profits of the government-sponsored home-finance companies Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

The funding would be a boon to the nonprofit housing sector – worth up to an estimated $1 billion within two years – but it comes with strings attached: nonprofit organizations would not be able to tap into the fund if they have recently engaged in activities that encourage people to vote.


Yes, you read that right.

The amendment, a product of negotiations between a faction of conservative legislators and the House Financial Services Committee leadership:

bars nonprofits receiving the government money from spending their own private funds, raised from non-federal sources, on any election-related activity. For instance, grantees could not help people register to vote or host a polling site at a housing facility.

The legislation also restricts grantees from associating with groups engaged in such activities -- a caveat critics fear could break up mutually supportive nonprofit networks through guilt by association. According to a legislative analysis by the government watchdog group OMB Watch, "affiliation" could be defined as funding support that constitutes over 20 percent of a group’s yearly budget, overlapping board members, or even a shared computer server.


The restrictions would apply during the term of any grants and would also be required for a year prior to any grant. For-profit companies, which already enjoy relatively few limitations on political activities under existing federal statutes would not have to conform to these requirements

When the National Voter Registration Act was passed in 1993, nonprofits across the United State were required to provide voter registration services in order to receive housing and other social services money. As a direct result in 2002, nonprofits registered millions of new voters, many of whom were low-income. The amendment is therefore probably unconstitutional because it attempts to limit rights of affiliation; is in conflict with existing federal law (and State law in places like Minnesota where state law actually mandates that nonprofits receiving state support "shall provide voter registration services for employees and the public."); will increase disenfranchisement among the poor and is, in fact, an attempt to criminalize democracy

Its easy, of course, to see why Republicans want this provision in the bill:

In a letter dated May 25 to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), obtained by The NewStandard, members of the Republican Study Committee warned, "[T]he money from this fund could be used to finance third-party advocacy groups that have agendas… that are antagonistic to the free-market principles we value."

An unsigned memorandum recently circulated among House members contended that the bill "would require the government sponsored enterprises to pump billions into left-wing organizations."


BUT, there are only 231 Republicans in Congress, out of a total of 435 Reps. That means one hundred Democrats voted for this amendment - more than all those who voted against it! WTF???

Sheila Crowley, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, says "You’re left to conclude that people don’t want low-income people to vote."

I want to know who these 100 Democrat traitors are. I want to hear them try to justify themselves. I will do my best to find out who they are and when I do I will name and shame every single one here on Newshog.

Update

A Violently Executed Blog has the roll of Democrats who voted for the bill, with links. See your own Rep. there? Ask him or her why they voted for this bill.

Here is the roll-call for the amendment to prevent democracy. Notice two Dems actually voted to include this amendment? Farr and Taylor (MS). Let's remember them in 2006 especially. Thirteen Republicans with backbones and consciences voted against the amendment. Maybe they should cross the floor...

Here is the roll call for the vote on the bill including the amendment. Sanders, Pelosi, Conyers, Kucinich, hell even Tom Tancredo, all voted against the bill. Notables that voted for it include the League of Corrupt Gentlemen - DeLay, Pombo, Sensenbrenner, Dreier et al - and one Sherrod Brown (OH) along with Democrats like Cuellar, Schwartz (PA), and Obey.

Time to start finding out the whys and wherefores.

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