DISCLOSE: The First Part of the Debate

Update (12:37 p.m.): House passed rule for H.R. 5175, 220-205. Debate now beginning on DISCLOSE Act.
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The House has finished debating the rule to set the terms of the one-hour debate on H.R. 5175 and is now voting on several procedural votes. The first is on ordering the previous question, that is, whether to move forward to the further votes. Republicans want to defeat the previous question so they can add legislative language blocking the spending of funds on the IRS hiring of agents to enforce the individual health care mandate.

That debate has merits, but it did inject an partisan-appearing element into what could have been a clear debate of principle, e.g., the First Amendment, against politics, that is legislation crafted to disadvantage speech and speakers whom the bill’s sponsors want to silence. Now it looks like partisanship v. partisanship.

To summarize the arguments for the bill: Corporations buying elections, drowning out the “ordinary citizens.” BP is bad. Insurance companies are bad. Wall Street, tobacco companies, they’re bad, too. The public supports the DISCLOSE Act. And did I mention that BP is bad?

Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA) was particularly strong in his rebuttals and defense of the First Amendment. We appreciated his debunking the “Americans support the DISCLOSE Act” canard, noting — as we did yesterday — that the polling supporters are waving about was conducted in February and March, long before the DISCLOSE Act was written. In fact, the text of the bill the House is voting on today wasn’t made available until yesterday afternoon.

Just now, the House ordered the previous question: 243-181. They’re now voting on adoption of the rule.

We’ve been Tweeting the debate @Shopfloor_NAM, using the hashtag term, #DISCLOSE.

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