Americans are outraged that big-money donors and special interests keep finding new ways to capture the political machinery in Washington.

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FROM the East Coast to the West Coast, Americans are fighting to reclaim their role in the democratic process. Frustrated by the growing influence of big money in our politics, citizens are calling for reforms that would bolster their voices and reduce the power of wealthy and well-connected interests.

In Seattle, local efforts like Initiative 122, which passed earlier this month, are paving the way for citizen-owned elections. But reform can’t stop in cities and states. It must continue its way up to the federal level, too. That’s why we’ve put forward several bold pieces of legislation in Congress to fight back against special-interest politics and return to a democracy of, by and for the people.

We know that most Americans feel like their voices aren’t heard in Washington, D.C. That’s why we introduced the Government By the People Act (H.R. 20), to provide everyday people — and the candidates they support — with the tools they need to compete with big-money politics.

Under the proposal, all Americans would be eligible to receive a “My Voice” tax credit for small-donor political contributions, enabling them to make a meaningful donation to a candidate running for Congress. Then, if that candidate agrees to voluntary contribution limits, H.R. 20 would boost each small donation using a “Freedom From Influence” matching fund.

The combination of the tax credit — which would allow more Americans to participate in the political process — and the matching fund — which would amplify the power of each voter’s donation — would give everyday citizens a voice again in government, a voice that competes with the influence of wealthy donors.

By making citizen-owned elections a viable alternative to our current big-money system, we can help congressional candidates spend more time with their constituents and less time with the insider crowd.”

By making citizen-owned elections a viable alternative to our current big-money system, we can help congressional candidates spend more time with their constituents and less time with the insider crowd. Just imagine a candidate standing in your living room and listening to your priorities, because you and your neighbors are the ones with the power. That’s the promise of the Government By the People Act.

We also know that everyday Americans are outraged that big-money donors and special interests keep finding new ways to capture the political machinery in Washington, D.C. That’s why we put forward the Close the Floodgates Act, which would reverse a provision that was slipped into a must-pass government spending bill last year to significantly increase the amount of money that wealthy donors could contribute to national political parties. We are fighting to enact this sensible fix, while beating back the inclusion of additional damaging campaign-finance riders in this year’s spending package.

Finally, we know that if we want to reform our broken finance system, we need to put the teeth back into our campaign-finance watchdog: the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Another proposal, the Restoring Integrity to America’s Elections Act, would provide much-needed FEC reforms. This includes reducing its commissioners from six members to five members — in order to eliminate stalemates — and increasing the independence of the commission by requiring one of its members to not be affiliated with either political party.

By advancing these kinds of reforms, Congress could join the vanguard of states and municipalities — like Seattle — that are empowering everyday citizens, reducing the influence of wealthy special interests and ultimately restoring the promise of American democracy.