Disclose Act dies again

DISCLOSE ACT DIES AGAIN…. The DISCLOSE Act (Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections) seems like such a modest proposal. It the wake of the Citizens United ruling, Democrats thought it made sense to require corporations and interest groups that pay for campaign ads to identify themselves — allowing the public to know who’s saying what.

In the House, the proposal even had a Republican co-sponsor. In the Senate, Dems agreed to make changes Republicans wanted to see related to the way the legislation treated labor unions.

But in July, every Senate Republican blocked the chamber from even debating the bill. Today, every Senate Republican did the exact same thing.

The Senate on Thursday once again blocked consideration of a controversial campaign finance measure that would require greater disclosure of corporate campaign spending.

A cloture motion to begin debate on the DISCLOSE Act fell short on a 59-39 vote. The outcome likely puts the legislation on the back burner until after the midterm elections, but it is unclear whether Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will try to take the issue up again during a lame-duck session.

Democrats only needed one Republican to at least allow the Senate to debate the bill, but not one was willing to break ranks. Remember when Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was a champion of campaign-finance reform? He not only opposed the bill, he filibustered an attempt to have a debate. 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 toed the party line.

It was too late to make any difference in this cycle — “independent” groups helping Republicans are already trying to buy the midterm elections for the GOP — but it’s the kind of common-sense step that would have helped in the future. But “only” a 59-member majority supports the move, which in our dysfunctional legislative system, necessarily means it dies.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.