DISCLOSE Act Slated for Senate Consideration TOMORROW

Published Mon, Jul 26 2010 10:14 AM

After rewriting the Senate version of the DISCLOSE Act, Senator Schumer began the Rule 14 process – a maneuver used to bypass action by the Rules and Administration Committee, which has jurisdiction over the bill – to get the new version on the Senate calendar and force a vote before Congress recesses in August. The DISCLOSE Act has now been slated for a cloture vote on Tuesday. National Journal reported this recent move "appears calculated more to score political points than to actually enact legislation." Despite the new tweaks in the bill, it seems "opponents appear unmoved by Schumer's recent changes. If anything, they may win some new allies." So what changes were actually made to the bill? National Journal explained:

Schumer's rewrite of the bill sets out in part to blunt the argument that it favors labor unions. For example, the bill requires groups to report all transfers of $50,000 to and from affiliates, but a House-added provision had exempted dues from that disclosure rule. Schumer's new version of DISCLOSE strips out that exemption, meaning groups must report large dues transfers as well.

"That is sort of an entreaty to moderate Republicans who are still considering the bill," said one Democratic Senate aide. The Schumer rewrite also tweaks the disclaimer requirements to eat up less time from ads, and nixes an anti-BP amendment by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, that would have banned political activity by groups with Outer Continental Shelf drilling leases.

Schumer also added a measure -- long sought by reform advocates -- that would require senators to file quarterly campaign finance reports electronically, instead of on paper. This was inserted "in the interests of more clear disclosure, more sunlight," the Senate aide said.

The changes are an attempt "to make even more clear that the legislation is not intended to advantage one type of outside group over another," said Lisa Gilbert, democracy advocate for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

If this bill passes, the effect of deterring political speech will be felt immediately. The Heritage Foundation pointed out:

[The DISCLOSE Act] will become effective within thirty days, which will cause such confusion and chaos only two months before the fall congressional elections that many corporations, both profit and nonprofit, and incorporated associations, will no doubt stay out of the election and stay out of grassroots activity on other bills and issues being considered by Congress before November. But then, there is little doubt that deterring such activity that could lead to criticism of the positions and votes taken by incumbent senators and representatives is an intentional objective.

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