By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Pro-life organizations are breathing a sigh of relief now that the DISCLOSE Act, which would have severely hampered their ability communicate with voters in the upcoming elections failed to pass.
LifeSiteNews.com is reporting that the Senate voted on Thursday to invoke cloture on the bill, known as the DISCLOSE (Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections) Act. This bill was designed to counter the Supreme Courts’ recent Citizens United v. FEC ruling in which the Court overturned a law barring corporations and unions from paying for political ads made independently of candidate campaigns.
Because corporations tend to contribute to fiscally conservative candidates, Democrats launched the DISCLOSE Act in an attempt to stem the tide of contributions in the upcoming mid-terms. The Act sought to increase transparency of corporate and special-interest money in national political campaigns by requiring disclosure of the identity of large donors, and to reveal their identities in any political ads they fund. It would have also barred foreign corporations, government contractors and TARP recipients from making political expenditures. Notably, the bill would exempt all long-standing, non-profit organizations with more than 500,000 members from having to disclose their donor lists, which would have effectively lifted these requirements for labor unions.
The bill includes a host of onerous requirements, such as forcing grassroots organizations like pro-life groups to list all donors of $600 or more with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Groups would also be required to post a hyperlink on their website to the FEC, where a list of the names of their donors could be accessed, which critics say could expose donors to political retaliation by activist groups.
Fortunately, Republicans in the Senate mounted a filibuster which proponents of the Act were unable to surmount. A motion to open debate on the bill failed by a vote of 59-39.
“We dodged a cannonball by a whisker,” Douglas Johnson, National Right to Life Committee’s Legislative Director told LifeSiteNews.com. “I’m not ready to declare it dead yet, but the chances of it being enacted in this congress have fallen substantially. . . . They threw everything they had at it and they still weren’t able to punch it through the Senate.”
Johnson said he believes opponents of the bill could keep it “bottled up for the rest of the session” but warned that Democrats may try to ram it through again during a lame-duck session in December.
For this reason, he cautioned pro-life groups to remain vigilant.
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