WASHINGTON -- Republicans today blocked legislation drafted to require more disclosure in campaign spending by corporations and unions, voting as a bloc to stop the bill’s advancement in the U.S. Senate.
The bill has been a high priority for President Obama, who called for its passage as a counterweight to an expected flood of corporate spending in the fall campaign.
On a straight party-line vote after a hot debate, an effort to defeat a Republican filibuster fell two votes short of the 60 required to move the bill forward. All 40 Republicans voted against it.
Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, bemoaned the lack of bipartisanship that had carried campaign bills in the past. "It's like skins and shirts," he said of the two parties.
But Republicans portrayed the bill as a partisan power grab, designed by Democrats to stifle political speech and tilt campaign advantages toward unions that favor Democratic incumbents.
“This is a transparent effort to rig the fall elections,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican from Kentucky.
Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown, whom supporters of the legislation had hoped to persuade to move the bill forward, joined a united Republican caucus to block the bill.
“The 15 million unemployed across the country aren’t too concerned about political content of political ads during the middle of a political season,” Brown said in an interview after the vote. “To push something like this, when people are hurting...strictly to gain a tactical advantage for political purposes is wrong.”
But even in defeat, Democrats think they have a winning issue for the fall campaign -- a piece of a larger effort to portray Republicans as the servants of corporate America who are out of touch with the middle class.
“Just as quick as they ran to the side of big business and the insurance companies, the big banks and the oil companies, Senate Republicans are now running away from transparency and accountability in our elections,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.