In yet another attempt to pass their partisan DISCLOSE Act last night, Democrats once more fell far short of the 60 votes that would be needed to advance the legislation. After Democrat senators spent until after midnight complaining about this result on the Senate floor, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has decided to… have ANOTHER vote on the DISCLOSE Act this afternoon. So the Senate will spend another day on this bill Democrats know can’t get 60 votes instead of doing anything to address the economy, unemployment, the looming fiscal cliff of tax hikes and defense cuts coming in January, or even basic appropriations bills to run the government.
No, Democrats are focused on their crusade to limit free speech and undermine the First Amendment through the DISCLOSE Act. In fact, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was fairly explicit about his desire to restrain the First Amendment as he spoke on the Senate floor last night: “I believe there ought to be limits because the First Amendment is not absolute. No amendment is absolute,” Schumer said. “You can’t scream ‘fire’ falsely in a crowded theater. We have libel laws. We have anti-pornography laws. All of those are limits on the first amendment. Well, what could be more important than the wellspring of our democracy? And certain limits on first amendment rights that if left unfettered, destroy the equality — any semblance of equality in our democracy — of course would be allowed by the Constitution.” Of course the Supreme Court has said that many such limits on political speech through campaign finance reform are in fact not constitutional. Yet Obama advisor David Axelrod has said that if President Obama was re-elected, his administration would be open to even amending the First Amendment, a suggestion Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has called “An act of radicalism.”
But what would a debate about campaign finance reform be without myriad examples of Democrats’ hypocrisy on the issue? BuzzFeed reports, “The Senate Democrat leading the push for greater transparency in campaign donations to outside organizations slipped out of a highly orchestrated floor event Monday – to attend a fundraiser for an outside organization. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, the lead sponsor on the Disclose Act – which would force outside political organizations to disclose donations of more than $10,000 – briefly left a ‘midnight vigil’ on the Senate floor to attend a fundraiser for a health care reform group. Whitehouse and Sen. Chuck Schumer had set up a series of votes and debates on their Disclose Act — all of which were not expected to help the bill’s chances of passage in the near term — in an effort to hammer Republicans over their opposition to further transparency in campaign finance laws. Whitehouse didn’t go far – the event was held at Johnny’s Half Shell, a tony bar located less than a quarter mile from the Senate chamber that is a popular venue for fundraisers by politicians, lobbyists, political groups, and non-profits like the Alliance . . . .”
And the Washington Free Beacon noted, “President Obama blasted Senate Republicans Monday after the failure of the DISCLOSE Act for ‘(standing) with big banks and oil companies’—but made no mention of union spending in the statement, despite recent reports that unions both affected the legislation and spent an estimated $4.4 billion on elections between 2005 and 2011. The Washington Free Beacon reported Monday that union leaders pressured Senate Democrats to drop a key provision of the legislation, according to a Republican aide.”
Leader McConnell expressed his disgust with Democrats’ partisan DISCLOSE Act in an interview with Fox News’ Greta van Sustren last night: “[H]ere they’ve managed to come up with a bill that’s opposed by everybody from the ACLU to the NRA. It’s got broad-based opposition. Why? Because it’s designed by our Democratic friends to try to punish people who are supportive of Republicans and advantage their biggest ally, the labor unions, which The Wall Street Journal says have spent over $4 billion in money on campaigns over the last six or eight years.
“So it’s a kind of jerry-rigged proposal to give the government information it needs to go after its political adversaries. And they’ve already been doing that through the IRS, through the SEC, through the FCC, through the White House itself, which was floating a memorandum that they were going to send out to all the government contractors telling them, in effect, You better disclose, the implication being you won’t be able to do business with the government, an outrageous proposal.
“It was defeated tonight, and they’ll probably make us vote on it again tomorrow and it’ll be defeated again tomorrow.”