Senate Democrats Will Bring Back Disclose Act Hurting Pro-Life Free Speech

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 17, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Democrats Will Bring Back Disclose Act Hurting Pro-Life Free Speech

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
August 17
, 2010

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — When the Senate comes back from its August recess, the pro-abortion Democrats who control the chamber will bring back a campaign finance bill that pro-life groups oppose because it will limit their free speech. Last month, they failed to get enough votes to stop a Republican filibuster against the DISCLOSE Act.

The bill would place stringent limits on the ability of grassroots groups to communicate to the public about legislation and elections.

Senate Republicans filibustered the legislation and Democrats held a cloture vote late last month where they need 60 votes to be able to stop the filibuster and move towards a vote on the bill itself.

However, they were unable to peel off any Republicans to support the cloture vote and lost by a 57-41 margin.

Now, representatives of Senate Maj. Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Chuck Schumer, the bill’s pro-abortion lead sponsors, say the bill will return to the Senate floor next month.

Democrats are targeting Republican Sens. Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine. They are three abortion advocates considered most likely to switch their vote to support the bill and oppose the filibuster.

“The bill would 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,” said Collins spokesman Kevin Kelley, according to a Politico report.

“I’m going to vote against it, because it’s premature,” Snowe added. “We’ve had no hearing process and ability to build consensus.”

They previously chided the measure as a way for Democrats to negatively influence the outcome of the 2010 elections, but Democrats reportedly removed some of the more offensive provisions the three opposed.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, who typically votes with Democrats, was out of town for a funeral as was pro-life Nevada Sen. John Ensign, who would have voted against cloture.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans have no plan to back down.

“The DISCLOSE Act seeks to protect unpopular Democrat politicians by silencing their critics and exempting their campaign supporters from an all-out attack on the First Amendment,” McCon­nell said. “In the process, the authors of the bill have decided to trade our constitutional rights away in a backroom deal that makes the Cornhusker Kickback look like a model of legislative transparency.”

As LifeNews.com reported, the National Right to Life Committee has been lobbying against the bill and the Family Research Council joins it.

Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, says the bill is nothing more than an attempt by pro-abortion Democrats to hold onto their congressional seats in an election cycle

"This past weekend Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Obama told a gathering of the most hard-edged liberal activists that they need to pull out all stops to win this November so that they can push more of their damaging agenda on the American people," he said.

"Fearful of what Election Day could mean for their extreme ideology, a number of liberals in Congress are pushing S. 3628, the DISCLOSE Act, which amounts to Democrat incumbent protection legislation disguised as campaign finance reform," Perkins added.

Instead of addressing the problems that may be found in some election campaigns, Perkins says the Disclose Act "seeks to add to the already onerous burdens placed on organizations that act within the law by going after their donors and exposing them in public forums."

The National Right to Life Committee sent senators a letter characterizing the bill as "a blatant political attack on the First Amendment rights of NRLC, our state affiliates, and our members and donors."

The letter advises members that the limits are so problematic, NRLC is forced to include a roll call of the vote in the annual ratings of Congress it provides to millions of pro-life voters.

The bill would codify a vague and expansive definition of “express advocacy” under which any expenditure for a public communication that “takes a position on a candidate’s character, qualification, or fitness for office” might be deemed to be an “independent expenditure” and therefore subject to numerous burdensome and intrusive regulations.

"The bill applies this vague standard not only to broadcast ads very near elections, but to any public communication – broadcast or print – at any time of the year, and even to paid ads on the Internet," the letter complains.

Related web sites:
Family Research Council – https://www.frc.org
National Right to Life – https://www.nrlc.org
NRLC letter – https://www.nrlc.org/FreeSpeech/NRLCLetterToSenateOnDISCLOSEAct.pdf

 

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