The Washington Post

For second day, Senate fails to move DISCLOSE campaign transparency bill

If at first you don’t succeed then try--and fail--again.

That seemed to be the going philosophy Tuesday for Senate Democrats who engineered the second vote in as many days on the DISCLOSE act, which would require new transparency from donors to independent political groups.

The bill failed to move ahead on a procedural vote, 53 to 45, on Tuesday afternoon; to proceed, the bill needed the support of 60 senators. That outcome was essentially identical to a vote on the same motion made Monday; when the bill failed 51 to 44.

The only switch came from Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), whose nay vote on Monday was a procedural tactic that allowed him to call for Tuesday’s repeat.

Democrats forced the do-over to demonstrate their commitment to the bill, which would require the release of the names of those who contribute $10,000 or more to nonprofit groups for political purposes.

After Monday’s defeat, Democrats held a rare evening session, giving speeches until after midnight on the belief that more transparency would help prevent shadowy corporate interests from unduly influencing elections.

Republicans accused Democrats of wasting time by pressing a bill that they knew did not have the votes to advance. Democrats argued that the issue of big-dollar giving in campaigns was important enough to merit a second vote.

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The dynamics of the debate were virtually the same — though reversed — as they were last week in the House, when Republicans pushed to repeal President Obama’s health care bill. They argued that their vote--the House’s 33rd attempt to repeal or defund all or part of the law--proved the importance of repeal. Democrats responded that the constant repeat votes were holding up lawmakers from addressing the tough economy.

Rosalind Helderman is a political enterprise and investigations reporter for the Washington Post.


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