Republicans block campaign finance measure


Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked a vote on a bill that would force special interest groups to disclose their donors when purchasing political ads, defeating an effort to impose new campaign finance regulations before the November congressional election.

As the Senate’s 41 Republicans voted in unison to filibuster the bill, Democrats vowed to bring the legislation up again. “This fight will continue,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), the bill’s sponsor.

The result had been expected, as Democratic leaders failed to round up the necessary 60 votes to move the bill forward, and came a day after President Obama spoke in favor of the bill from the White House Rose Garden.


Even so, Democrats saw an opportunity to use the debate Tuesday to tie the GOP to corporate interests. That has emerged as a key election-year line of attack. “Make no mistake: With today’s vote, we’re picking sides,” Schumer said on the floor.

Republicans, in turn, said the bill was a politically motivated attempt to curb free-speech rights.

“This bill is about protecting incumbent Democrats from criticism ahead of this November’s elections,” said Senate minority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “It’s a transparent attempt to rig the fall elections.”

The legislation, a form of which has passed the House, was offered in response to a Supreme Court decision this year, in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, that erased federal limits on campaign expenditures for corporations, labor unions and interest groups. Limits still exist on the amount that corporations or individuals can directly contribute to campaigns.

As a result, companies, unions and so-called front groups can spend millions of dollars on political advertisements without restraint. The Senate bill, known as the DISCLOSE Act, would force issue groups to reveal their donors as well as require corporate chief executives to record messages saying they stand by their ads.

The act also would bar government contractors, foreign-controlled corporations and companies that received federal bailout funds from making campaign-related expenditures.

The bill contains an exemption for large, multi-state organizations, such as the National Rifle Assn., which angered some Democrats, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). Feinstein ultimately voted Tuesday to end debate and move forward to a floor vote.