A proposed constitutional amendment that could restore campaign spending limits is an attack on freedom of speech and a move by vulnerable Democrats to "shut down" their critics and keep their Senate leadership, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. said in a Politico Magazine
opinion piece Sunday.
"American people have a lot on their minds these days — important issues they expect the Democrat-run Senate to address: things like high unemployment, threats of terrorism, rising healthcare costs and the ongoing crisis at the border," McConnell wrote.
"Unfortunately, hardly any of those things will be on the Senate’s agenda when it returns Monday. That’s because the Democrats who control the Senate say they’re more interested in repealing the free speech protections the First Amendment guarantees to all Americans."
And to achieve that goal, McConnell said, Democrats are "willing to devote roughly half of the remaining legislative days before November to this quixotic anti-speech gambit."
The proposed amendment, sponsored by New Mexico Democrat Sen. Tom Udall and Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, would overturn the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision that eliminated many limits on campaign spending, saying they violated First Amendment rights, reports Roll Call.
Under the 28th Amendment, if passed, Congress would be able to regulate spending and contributions in federal contests, and allow state governments to regulate campaign spending.
But if Republicans prolong their debate on the amendment, which comes up for a vote Monday, it could interfere with other Democratic-sponsored, pre-election bills that could play well with voters, including minimum wage increases, student loan legislation, and more.
McConnell said in his Politico piece that it likely won't matter to Democrats whether the amendment is approved.
"A proposal as bad as the one Senate Democrats are pushing won’t even come close to garnering the votes it would need to pass," McConnell said. "But to many Democrats, that’s just the point. They want this proposal to fail because they think that somehow it would help them on Election Day — they think it will help drive to the polls more left-wing voters who don’t like having to defend their ideas."
Instead of proposing bills that will fail, McConnell said, Democrats would be better off finally casting votes on legislation the public wants, calling the amendment proposal a "bizarre sideshow."
Meanwhile, Udall and Sanders, in an opinion piece of their own for Politico,
said their amendment will protect democracy.
"We must develop an unprecedented grass-roots movement in all 50 states to make it clear to Congress and the Supreme Court that buying of elections is not what American democracy is all about," said Udall and Sanders.
They wrote that since the court's ruling, there has been an "explosion of outside money" through super PACS.
"In the 2012 election, we quickly saw the results — 32 major super PAC donors combined to give more money than the millions of ordinary Americans who donated less than $200 each to Barack Obama or Mitt Romney," they said. "More than 60 percent of all super PAC funds came from just 159 donors, each of whom gave more than $1 million."
Udall and Sanders said there is "no single issue" more important to Americans
than controlling "billionaires' power to buy election," which means "people elected to office will be responsive to the needs of the rich and powerful, rather than the needs of everyone else."
They pointed out that 500 cities, 16 states, and the District of Columbia have passed resolutions calling on Congress to overturn the Supreme Court's decision, and that polls show Americans want super PACs abolished.
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