By Ramsey Cox
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has set up a procedural vote for September on a constitutional amendment to limit money in politics.
Before adjourning for a five-week recess on Friday, Reid filed cloture on the motion to proceed to S.J. Res. 19, which is designed to overturn two recent Supreme Court decisions that allowed corporations, labor unions and wealthy individuals to spend more money on federal elections.
The amendment is certain to fail in the Senate because Republicans generally support the high court’s decisions in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and McCutcheon v. FEC, arguing they removed limits on free speech.
“This partisan effort to weaken the First Amendment is the clearest proof yet of how out of touch the Democrat Majority has become from the needs and concerns of ordinary Americans and how ill-equipped they are to lead in these challenging times,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Friday. “Washington Democrats have forgotten that the First Amendment is meant to empower the people, not the government.”
The 2010 Citizens United ruling struck down restrictions that had barred corporations and unions from spending money from their general treasury funds to support or oppose candidates. In McCutcheon, the court struck aggregate limits on individual contributions to candidates.
The amendment from Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) would authorize Congress and the states to regulate and limit fundraising and spending on federal candidates.
It would also prohibit the Supreme Court from reversing any future campaign finance legislation passed by Congress.
The amendment would need to be passed by two-thirds of the Senate and the House and then be ratified by three quarters of the states.
McConnell said the vote is a political stunt by Democrats ahead of the midterm elections.
“This latest Democrat effort to abridge political speech is little more than a craven attempt to substitute the incumbent-protection desires of Washington Democrats for a fundamental right that the Constitution guarantees to all Americans,” McConnell said.
— Alexander Bolton contributed to this article.