Democrats call for a Senate vote on elections reform package

Congressman John Sarbanes of Maryland talks with reporters about a Democratic ethics and elections reform package, as Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (left) and Cong. David Cicilline of Rhode Island look on. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – Democratic congressmen are trying to pressure Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell into allowing a vote on a comprehensive elections and ethics reform package.

Maryland Democratic Rep. John Sarbanes, the bill’s main author, met with Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse in North Providence on Thursday.

They say the influence of big money in politics is impeding efforts to address climate change, gun violence and prescription drug costs. Activists working on those issues attended the event.

The legislation would make it easier to register and vote, require “dark money” political groups to make their donors public, and create a public financing system for congressional campaigns. The House passed it in March.

Republicans say it’s a power grab that would expand government. McConnell pronounced it dead on arrival.