Senate GOP blocks vote, kills DISCLOSE Act

SENATE GOP BLOCKS VOTE, KILLS DISCLOSE ACT…. We learned earlier today that Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) would be away from Capitol Hill this afternoon, attending a funeral. At that point, it was all but certain that the DISCLOSE Act (Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections) would fail today to overcome the latest in an endless line of Republican filibusters.

With every member of the Democratic caucus in the chamber, the bill would need one GOP vote. With Lieberman out for the day, it would need two. And when it comes to promoting campaign disclosure from corporations, labor unions, and non-profit organizations, we saw unanimous Republican opposition to even allowing the Senate to vote.

The final roll call this afternoon was 57 to 41. In a sane world, legislation with 57 supporters and 41 opponents would win. In the U.S. Senate, thanks to scandalous Republican abuses, it loses.

There’s just no logic to the GOP refusing to allow a vote on this. It already passed the House — with a Republican co-sponsor, no less — and it’s really not that controversial.

The DISCLOSE Act would require corporations and interest groups to identify themselves when they sponsor political ads and, in the case of smaller organizations, to reveal their donors.

President Obama and Democratic leaders hoped the bill would, among other things, help undo the damage of the recent Citizens United ruling, in which the Supreme Court threw out limits on corporate political spending. And since the bill merely called to publicize who was putting money into politics, rather than limit that money, Obama and the Democrats hoped they could peel off enough Republican votes to break a filibuster. They were wrong. Not one Republican voted to proceed with debate — not even after the Democrats modified the bill, in order to address GOP arguments that it would treat unions differently from other groups.

Remember when Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was a champion of campaign-finance reform? He refused to even let the Senate vote on a simple disclosure bill. Remember when Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Scott Brown (R-Mass.) seemed like the kind of “moderates” who would support an effort like this? All three not only opposed the bill, but supported a filibuster to block a vote.

Democrats intend to use today’s vote in the future as an example of ridiculous Republican values. In expectation of the vote, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said this morning, “Today’s vote has the potential to be a defining one for the Republican party. This [is] a choice between the public and big corporations and the Republicans seem poised to vote en masse for the corporations.”

Update: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), shortly before the vote: “This is a sad day for our democracy. Not only does the Supreme Court give those special interests a huge advantage, but this body says they should do it all in secret without any disclosure. That, my colleagues, transcends this election, transcends Democrat or Republican. It eats at the very fabric of our democracy. It makes our people feel powerless and angry.”