“Money is driving the American political agenda,” Kerry said during a speech on the Senate floor this afternoon. “Money decides what gets heard and doesn't get heard around here. What gets acted on and doesn't and how it gets acted on in many cases.”
Senate Democrats are trying to revive the so-called Disclose Act, which would require more disclosure of spending by outside political groups. The House approved the act earlier this year, but Republicans helped block it from coming to a vote in the Senate.
It appears unlikely that the bill will come to a vote this time, under a hyper-partisan atmosphere, but Democrats are hoping to draw attention to the issue several weeks before the crucial midterm elections. Kerry sought to appeal to the Tea Party movement that has energized much of the midterm elections so far.
“In the year of the Tea Party, when the Tea Party is asking for accountability and the Tea Party is asking for sunshine and they want reform, I'd like to hear the Tea Party stand up today and say, ‘Republicans ought to vote overwhelmingly to have sunshine shine in on the funding process of our campaigns,’” Kerry said in a speech on the Senate floor. “I would think that the Tea Party ought to be excoriated over the notion that a corporation has been given the same rights as the Constitution gives to an individual.”
Senator Scott Brown criticized the bill, and Democrats for trying to move forward with it.
“Americans, especially those looking for work, want this Congress and this administration focused on job creation and getting the economy back on track," the Massachusetts Republican said in a statement. "Putting people back to work should be our number one priority, not pushing through a wildly unpopular campaign bill that gives a tactical advantage to the majority party in future elections.”
Republicans argue that the legislation would limit free speech by political groups by restricting their campaign donations, and criticized Democrats for bringing the issue up again this week.
“Let's be clear from the outset. That’s all this is: pure politics,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said this morning. “Over the past couple elections, our friends on the other side have gotten a lot of help from their union allies and from other outside groups, so much so, in fact, they were able to outspend their opponents two to one in 2006 and three to one in 2008. But now, after spending the past year and a half enacting policies Americans don’t like, they want to prevent their opponents from being able to criticize what they’ve done.”
Matt Viser can be reached at email@example.com.
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.