Dems, GOP fight over campaign financing

So much for working together. House members are now in a bitter dispute on the House floor over whether the U.S. should continue a program allowing taxpayers to voluntarily fund presidential campaigns.

Republicans are hoping to end the program and save $617 million over ten years. Most Democrats will oppose it, and in their opening remarks in the morning debate, they charged that Republicans are looking to expand corporations' influence over campaigns.

Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) said the bill is a "shifty attack" on the current program that would tilt campaigns in favor of corporations. Hastings was also upset at the Republican "You Cut" program, the source of the idea for the bill. Hastings said You Cut is "biased" because it does not give people who vote on which programs to cut a chance to vote in favor of saving programs. He also said You Cut only allows those with Internet access to vote.

"Republicans seem to think this online gimmick is an effective substitute for good governance," he said.

Ranking Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) said it was ironic that Republicans were pushing the bill, H.R. 359, near the one-year anniversary of the Citizens United Supreme Court case. She said the result of that case was to "open the floodgates" of corporate money into federal campaigns, which affected the outcome of the 2010 election, and said today's bill would make it worse.

Dreier rejected all of these assertions by saying no corporate contributions are allowed to federal campaigns, and that people would still be able to voluntarily contribute to campaigns as they see fit. He said it is a "very specious argument" to say corporate money would flood into the system as a result of the bill. (Under the bill, they would simply not be able to do so by checking the box on their tax returns that sends $3 to the presidential campaign fund.) 

Dreier also questioned why Democrats would oppose a modified open rule to consider the campaign finance bill. 

The bill is H.R. 359. The rule is being debated this morning before they move to the actual bill. Hastings charged that only one amendment is being seen as germane to the bill, and that this does not make it an "open" debate.

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) replied that the House Parliamentarian, not Republicans, decides which amendments are germane.