Senate to Take Up DISCLOSE Act Next Week
Updated at 7:40 p.m.
Reported with Billy House
The Senate will vote on Monday on a Democratic bill to curb the torrents of money being spent on political campaigns by secret donors. But with no signs of Republican support, the measure appears doomed to failure.
GOP lawmakers, many of whom once offered full disclosure as their favored alternative to more restrictive campaign finance reforms, have abandoned their principles in favor of political expediency, charged Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, sponsor of the Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act.
"It is pretty clear they are enjoying an enormous political benefit," said Whitehouse, and so they "have had a dramatic transformation."
The result is bad for democracy, he said, and increases the danger of corruption. When donors insist on the cloak of anonymity, said Whitehouse, "it is prudent to assume they are up to no good."
House Democrats applauded Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's decision to press for action on the DISCLOSE Act, and said they have launched their own procedural efforts to bring a bill to the House floor.
"It's very exciting for us the Senate is taking it up," said Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi during a news conference.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland -- the main sponsor of the House version of the bill -- said he filed a discharge petition Thursday with the Clerk of the House to bring his bill to the floor.
Republican leaders did not immediately respond to the Democratic charges. But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell listed his objections last week in an op-ed column in USA Today.
"The Disclose Act would make this and any future administration's ability to punish and intimidate its political enemies even easier," wrote McConnell, a longtime opponent of campaign finance laws.
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