The bill designed to re-close some of the campaign spending doors opened by the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case has passed the US House of Representatives. However, it faces tough going in the Senate.
For starters, the bill to impose new disclosure requirements on corporations and other groups which do campaign advertising barely got through the House, passing 219-206. So, the Democratic Party leadership wasn’t even able to keep all members in line in the lower chamber. (36 Democrats voted no, while only two Republicans voted yes.) Getting 60 votes for a cloture vote in the Senate is a formidable obstacle.
Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) admits that he needs one Republican vote, and that’s even assuming that all Democrats stay onboard.
Don’t look for veteran campaign reform champion John McCain (R-AZ) to become that one Republican vote. McCain wants no part of the Disclose Act, due to exceptions that Democrats put into the bill in order to win enough support. Big liberal groups, such as the Sierra Club and AARP, were added to those qualifying for relief from having to publicly disclose their donors after an uproar over the original effort to exempt only the National Rifle Association – a move that the Democratic leadership had seen as essential to keeping NRA supporters from killing the bill.
President Barack Obama isn’t even all that keen on the bill, saying he wished there hadn’t been any exceptions. Even so, the White House is urging passage.
If the bill does become law, political advertising by corporations and other groups not associated with candidates and political parties (which have their own rules already) would be required to include a significant amount of verbiage in radio and TV ads explaining who is actually paying for the message. That’s designed to keep corporations from hiding behind groups that they are financing, but which have names giving no indication of any corporate relationship. Also, foreign corporations would be barred from any campaigning.
RBR-TVBR observation: Would the proposed law pass muster under the US Constitution any more than the one that was struck down by the high court? If it simply dies without Senate action, we won’t have to find out.