By Reid Wilson
August 16, 2010
Senate Democrats plan to bring up a campaign finance measure once again, according to the bill's supporters who hope to win cloture by wooing key GOP senators.
The DISCLOSE Act, which could not clear Senate hurdles when it came up just before the Aug. recess, will head back to the floor for a vote when the Senate returns next month, according to spokespeople for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the bill's lead sponsor.
The measure would implement strict disclosure laws on campaign ads, require corporate leaders to appear in ads much like candidates and severely restrict foreign-owned companies and those that do business with the government. Advocates cast it as a positive response to the Supreme Court's Citizens United v. FEC ruling, while opponents say the bill would freeze corporate speech.
Senate Democrats and their reform-advocate allies are targeting Sens. Scott Brown, R-Mass., Olympia Snowe, R-Maine and Susan Collins, R-Maine, all of whom voted against cloture last month. The three GOPers said the bill was rushed in an attempt to influence the '10 midterms on Dems' behalf.
Now, though, reform advocates believe they have removed that most significant objection all three Republicans had. If the measure is passed in late September or early October, it would not go into effect until after the midterms.
"The negotiation that we hope will be able to break the filibuster is the mere fact that this will no longer apply to the 2010 elections," said Craig Holman, a top lobbyist at Public Citizen, which backs the bill. "It will only apply to 2012 and beyond, and we hope that will be enough to make Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins and Scott Brown vote to end the filibuster."
Public Citizen is running grassroots campaigns in Massachusetts and Maine aimed at pushing the three Republicans toward the bill. The Republicans are getting pressure from Schumer, too, who will be lobbying his colleagues to switch their votes.
Senate leaders have told their House counterparts that they will bring the bill up again, and that they may let Republicans block it one more time in order to score political points. But after the bill fails, reform groups and senators who back the DISCLOSE Act will try to convince potential GOP allies to join them in passing the bill so it might be implemented after the midterms.
Still, Snowe, Collins and Brown will face pressure from their leader even after it becomes clear the bill wouldn't impact the midterms. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has been a vocal opponent of the DISCLOSE Act, labeling it a ploy to benefit Democrats. McConnell has been successful in keeping his conference together on most controversial votes, making the bill's prospects uncertain.
Democrats also have to deal with Sens. Dianne Feinstein , D-Calif., and Frank Lautenberg , D-N.J., both of whom are opposed to a carve-out that exempts the NRA from certain disclosure provisions. Holman said there is an understanding that the two Democrats would vote for cloture, getting Democrats over the 60 votes required to move the bill to final passage, but then Lautenberg and Feinstein could vote against the final package. Lautenberg and Feinstein both voted for cloture when the bill first came up on July 27.
By Reid Wilson
August 16, 2010