Senate Democrats Plan Thursday Vote on Disclose Act Hurting Pro-Life Speech

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 21, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Democrats Plan Thursday Vote on Disclose Act Hurting Pro-Life Speech

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 21
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — Senate Democrats plan a vote on Thursday on the DISCLOSE Act, a bill would place stringent limits on the ability of grassroots groups to communicate to the public about legislation and elections. Several pro-life groups have announced their opposition to the measure.

Senate Republicans filibustered the legislation and Democrats held a cloture vote in July where they needed 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.

Jim Manley, a top spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, said on Twitter today the Senate will debate the measure Wednesday with an eye towards casting votes to try to stop the filibuster on Thursday.

Sen. John Ensign, a pro-life Nevada Republican, was absent from the last vote and plans to vote against cloture, so Democrats would need to find at least one Republican to break ranks and join Democrats in allowing a vote on the controversial legislation.

Douglas Johnson, the legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee told this afternoon, he doesn’t believe Democrats will find that breakaway GOP lawmaker.

"It appears that the White House, and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, are going to make one more desperate attempt to prevent citizen groups from disseminating messages to the public that might contain unflattering information about the Administration, the congressional Democratic leadership, and the legislation they have been pushing," he said.

"We believe this attempt will again fail," Johnson added.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in August Republicans have no plans to back down from their opposition.

“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.”

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 –
National Right to Life –
NRLC letter –


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