DISCLOSE Act Fails to Achieve Cloture, 59-39

The roll call vote is here.

Today’s debate, or what passed for debate, was short. Sen. Robert Bennett (R-UT) made a statement noting that the bill had never had a hearing or been considered for amendment.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell again pointed out the disconnect between supporters’ political priorities and those of the public.

Now, our friends on the other side would have the public believe that this bill is about transparency. It’s not.

Here’s a bill that was drafted behind closed doors without hearings, without testimony, and without any markups. A bill that picks and chooses who gets the right to engage in the political process and who doesn’t. A bill that seeks, in other words, to achieve an un-level playing field. A bill that’s back on the floor for no other reason than the fact that our friends on the other side have declared this week “politics-only” week in the U.S. Senate.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), the sponsor, concluded with an offer to make it a more acceptable bill by delaying the effective date until after the election.

Senate Majority Leader Reid followed the vote with a news release chock full of slogans, “Reid: Republicans Block Debate On Common-Sense Measures To Prevent Special Interest From Drowning Out The Voices Of Voters.”

Credit again to the Campaign for Competitive Elections for offering a substantive critique of the legislation, pointing out its flaws as well as potential fixes. From the group’s news release, “DISCLOSE Act redo fails to pass procedural test“:

Although the speech prohibitions and the favored treatment of unions and select special interests have drawn the most criticism, the bill’s disclosure provisions have also been criticized as unnecessary. The American Civil Liberties Union has described in detail why the ‘Stand By Your Ad’ disclaimers would hamstring independent groups and infringe on First Amendment rights. Furthermore, the Center for Competitive Politics has described how groups already have to disclose spending earmarked for influencing elections. The DISCLOSE Act’s disclosure provisions would needlessly sweep up many other activities, such as grassroots lobbying campaigns.

“Democrats missed an opportunity to update campaign finance laws in a meaningful way to address real issues raised after Citizens United,” said Center for Competitive Politics President Sean Parnell. “They could have simply lifted self-imposed limits on candidates’ and parties’ ability to coordinate or increased contribution limits to fully account for inflation since they were first imposed. Instead, they chose to try to silence voices they find unwelcome, while protecting the right of allied groups to speak out.”

Thankfully, the discussions about the food safety bill that followed from Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MT) was refreshingly substantive and informative.

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