Senate Defeats Motion to Allow Vote on Disclose Act hurting Pro-Life Free Speech

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 23, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Defeats Motion to Allow Vote on Disclose Act Hurting Pro-Life Free Speech

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 23
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — The Senate today defeated a motion for a second time to end a Republican filibuster and allow a vote on a campaign finance bill pro-life groups opposed. The DISCLOSE Act 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 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.

This time around, Senate Democrats failed to find enough votes for cloture on a closer 59-39 margin, just one vote shy of the 60 needed to end debate. Republicans were able to keep their party caucus together as liberals like Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine voted to sustain the filibuster.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell criticized Democrats for pushing the vote at a time when other priorities are pending.

“At a time when Americans are clamoring for Democrats in Congress to do something about jobs and the economy, Democrats are not only turning a deaf ear, they’re spending two full days here working to silence the voices of even more people with a bill that picks and chooses who has a right to political speech," he said.

Douglas Johnson, the legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee told earlier in the week he didn’t think Democrats would find the additional vote needed to pass the bill.

He said the DISCLOSE Act is a "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."

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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