Comeback Possible for DISCLOSE

Posted July 26, 2010 at 6:31pm

Campaign finance legislation almost certainly won’t survive a Senate floor vote Tuesday, but Democrats plan to keep the issue alive in spirit as the campaign season heats up — and perhaps push for another vote on the measure in the near future.

“This is part of a longer-term strategy,” one Democratic aide said, noting that the bill could return in September.

Democrats consider the DISCLOSE Act, which aims to partially reverse the effect of the Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United ruling, a complement to their broader strategy of portraying the GOP as beholden to big business.

“The Republican leadership in the Senate is once again using every tactic and every maneuver they can to prevent the DISCLOSE Act from even coming up for an up-or-down vote,” President Barack Obama said in a Rose Garden speech Monday, “just like they did with unemployment insurance … just like they’re doing by blocking tax credits and lending assistance for small-business owners.”

Obama added that special-interest spending was undermining democracy. “A vote to oppose these reforms is nothing less than a vote to allow corporate and special interest takeovers of our elections,” he said.

So far, no Republican has come out to support the measure, authored by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who had courted Maine Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.)

But Schumer has also spent time lobbying Members of his own caucus. Democratic Sens. Frank Lautenberg (N.J.) and Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) oppose a provision written to exempt the National Rifle Association from the bill and could join Republicans in opposition to the measure in Tuesday’s procedural vote. Also, unions oppose disclosure requirements in the bill but have largely held their fire in anticipation of a future debate on the issue.

The House passed its version of the bill in June.

Schumer said Monday the bill was “one of the most important things we’ll be voting on in the next decade,” but Minority Leader Mitch McConnell dubbed it an election-year ploy and blasted Democrats for pivoting away from a small-business lending bill to hold the procedural vote.

“The mere suggestion that a bill designed to save politicians’ jobs should take precedent over helping millions of Americans find work is an embarrassing indictment of Democrats’ priorities,” the Kentucky Republican said in a statement. “The DISCLOSE Act seeks to protect unpopular Democrat politicians by silencing their critics and exempting their campaign supporters from an all out attack on the First Amendment.”