Democrats have been pushing for new campaign finance reforms in light of the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, but, with Congress in recess this week and with more and more primaries being held, general election season is beginning to arrive--at which point corporations may begin the unfettered political spending that Democrats worry about.
Indeed, the bill's authors have only token GOP backing in the House and none in the Senate. Reform advocates say they remain optimistic that some Republican senators will sign on. They note that historically, GOP leaders have pointed to full disclosure as the solution to the campaign finance mess.But Democrats are quickly running out of time to enact the bill by this fall's election. A crowded legislative calendar delayed a scheduled House Rules Committee markup last week. When it finally does take up the bill following recess, the rules panel must contend with close to 40 amendments on everything from earmarks to shareholder protections and ending contribution limits.
The Democrats' bill would impose disclosure requirements on corporations and unions, which can now spend money directly on elections, and it would place limits on corporations with more than 20% foreign ownership, on government contractors, and government bailout recipients. It's being pushed in the House by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD) and in the Senate by Chuck Schumer (NY), the former chairs of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, respectively, from the 2008 campaign cycle.