FILE - This May 16, 2018 file photo shows ranking Member Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., questioning Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt on Capitol Hill in Washington. Udall says he will not seek re-election in 2020 in a move that opens up a securely Democratic seat to competition. Udall announced the end of a 20-year career on Capitol Hill on Monday, March 25, 2019, in a statement. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

With eye on '20, Senate Dems unveil voting, ethics overhaul

March 27, 2019 - 12:51 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats unveiled legislation Wednesday aimed at making it easier for people to vote and curbing the influence of big money in politics, a measure destined to go nowhere in the Republican-run Senate but likely to be used by Democrats to make populist appeals in next year's election campaigns.

The measure by chief sponsor Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., is co-sponsored by every Senate Democrat and is filled with provisions supporters say will make government more responsive to voters.

Those include automatic voter registration, expanded mail-in voting and independent commissions to draw congressional districts. Political groups would be required to disclose donors, lawmakers would be banned from for-profit corporate boards, small campaign contributions would be matched by federal dollars and presidential candidates would be required to release their tax returns — a response to President Donald Trump, who flouted decades of precedent and has refused to disclose his.

"This is going to the people at the national election," Udall said, standing beside seven Democratic colleagues including presidential hopeful Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. He said Democratic candidates will be calling for the bill's changes while Republicans will be "talking about the status quo."

The Democratic-run House approved similar legislation earlier this month. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has criticized that bill, saying it would rewrite election rules to benefit Democrats. McConnell is not expected to let the Senate measure advance in his chamber.