Blog Post

Revised DISCLOSE Act Scheduled for Vote Tomorrow

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Journalist Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has caught the senate off-guard by calling for a vote tomorrow  on a revised version of the DISCLOSE Act -  a campaign finance bill that gives an unfair advantage to unions and other groups favorable to the Democratic party - in an effort to pass the legislation in time to influence the upcoming elections. According to The Hill, a revised version of the DISCLOSE Act (Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections), which appeared dead due to lack of support in the Senate, was introduced by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) last Wednesday. The original bill was crafted by Democrats in response to a recent Supreme Court ruling which struck down decades of campaign-finance laws that had barred corporations and labor unions from running TV ads advocating the defeat or election of federal candidates in the closing months of a campaign.  The revised Act differs in several ways from the original version which passed in the House in June. For example, the new version would require corporations, unions and advocacy groups to reveal their roles in political ads or mailings in the closing months of a campaign. Companies that receive TARP funding and smaller government contractors are also barred from underwriting “electioneering communications.” Sen. Schumer left intact a contentious provision exempting the National Rife Association and other large organizations from the reporting requirements of the legislation, but removed language approved by the AFL-CIO and other unions that would have excused these organization from having to report money transfers between affiliates. As a result, the AFL-CIO, the nation's largest labor federation, said they have concerns about the revised version. “Based on reports, we are concerned that recent developments could hamper working families’ ability to have a voice in the political process,” said an AFL-CIO spokesman. “We continue to review the legislation and fight to ensure that the final bill addresses the tilted advantage that big business has enjoyed for far too long.” The revised Act still imposes burdensome disclosure requirements on advocacy groups and non-profits, such as pro-life groups and other religious organizations, which many believe results in an unconstitutional restriction of free speech.  "The DISCLOSE Act affects all Americans and will place burdensome restrictions on the ability of non-profits to engage in free speech, to advocate for families and consumers," says the American Family Association's CitizenLink. "For example, the bill would force a group's top donors to appear in any political commercials, even those who aren't donors to the specific ad. It would also mean that all top donors' names would be disclosed even if they aren't funding any part of the political communication – and expose them to fear and intimidation tactics by opponents." With the prospects of losing control of Congress this fall becoming increasingly evident, liberal lawmakers are anxious to get the Act passed in time to influence the upcoming election. Even though Majority Leader Reid hurriedly scheduled a vote for tomorrow afternoon at 2:45, passage of the bill remains uncertain. For instance, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) whose vote is needed for passage, has publicly criticized the House version of the bill. “The bill appears to provide a clear and unfair advantage to unions, while either shutting other organizations out of the election process or subjecting them to onerous reporting requirements that would not apply to unions,” Collins said. They are also courting the vote of Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), whose spokesman, John Gentzel, told The Hill her official position opposing the bill remains unchanged after Schumer's revisions. Even though its fate is uncertain, conservative groups are still crying foul over Harry Reid's rush to vote on the bill tomorrow afternoon. Tom McClusky, senior vice-president of Family Research Council Action, said Reid is " looking for a way not to change campaign finance, but to influence the 2010 elections, which the current scene does not look all that good for the Democrats.” Citizens are being asked to contact their Senators today to voice their concerns about the DISCLOSE ACT.     © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace®