Thompson, of Mississippi, joined with all Republicans late Wednesday to vote against the House Democrats’ top legislative priority, known as the For the People Act of 2021.
Thompson’s vote was surprising since he was a co-sponsor of the legislation along with the rest of the Democratic caucus. But Thompson said Thursday his constituents weren’t supportive of the election overhaul, so he stood with them rather than his colleagues.
“My constituents opposed the redistricting portion of the bill as well as the section on public finances,” Thompson said in a statement to Fox News. “I always listen and vote in the interest of my constituents.”
The legislation requires states to establish independent redistricting commissions to carry out the once-a-decade redrawing of congressional districts in an effort to avoid partisan gerrymandering. The bill also establishes a new public financing system for congressional and presidential elections to incentivize small-dollar donations.
The legislation would create a 6:1 match for each grassroots contribution to a candidate up to $200. For example, a $200 donation to a House candidate would garner a $1,200 match in public funds for a total contribution of $1,400.
The public match program would be funded by a new 4.75% surcharge on criminal and civil penalties and settlements that corporations pay to the U.S. government. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated this week the new revenue stream would generate about $3.2 billion over 10 years.
The election legislation passed by a vote of 220 to 210. No Republicans joined with Democrats in approving the sweeping voter rights reform that now heads to the Senate.
Numbered H.R. 1 to signify it is the top priority of House Democrats, the legislation would also enact automatic voter registration, restore voting rights to felons after they have completed their sentences and expand early voting access and absentee voting.
It also prohibits voter roll purges and partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts, imposes new campaign finance rules, and requires presidential nominees to release 10 years of tax returns.
H.R. 1 would also take aim at big-dollar donors and dark money in politics by requiring additional disclosure of campaign donors and disclaimers on political advertising.
The legislation now heads to the Senate where it has a tough road for passage as the chamber is split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans. The legislation would require 60 votes to advance and needs GOP support.