Instead of focusing on jobs and the economy, the Republican leadership brought a bill to the floor today–with absolutely no hearings–to place control of our elections more squarely into the hands of secret corporate donors. The legislation (H.R. 359) does nothing to address the urgent need to focus on jobs and in fact shifts the election system to favor big business, strengthening the power of companies that ship American jobs overseas.
Established by Congress in the shadow of the Watergate Scandal, the current system of publicly financing presidential campaigns emerged during the early and mid-1970s to ensure elections are about voters, not big money. H.R. 359 opens the door for large political spenders (foreign-owned entities, large corporations and other organizations) to enjoy an even greater role in the funding of political campaigns after the Supreme Court opened the floodgates to uninhibited special interest spending in our elections by terminating:
the taxpayer option to designate $3 of income tax liability for financing of presidential election campaigns
the Presidential Election Campaign Fund
the Presidential Primary Matching Payment Account
Last year, Democrats worked on bipartisan legislation to restore transparency, fairness, and accountability to our political process by passing the DISCLOSE Act. This legislation would require corporations to stand by their advertisements and to keep foreign-owned entities from participating in our elections. After passing the House, it was blocked by Senate Republicans.
During the floor debate today, Rep. Walz (D-MN) offered a Motion to Recommit on H.R. 359 to preserve the public financing option for presidential candidates and to require disclosure of foreign countries, companies, or individuals donating to presidential campaigns, as well as donors spending over $100,000 on these contests. 227 House Republicans voted against the motion, instead casting their votes in favor of keeping foreign and large corporate donations to political campaigns hidden from the American people.