The effort is aimed at calling attention during an election year to the massive amounts of spending by outside groups on the election. While President Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney have both welcomed the help of super-PACs that can take unlimited political donations, their efforts are expected to give Romney a funding advantage.
“We recognize that you don’t win every fight in round one, and this is a fight worth continuing,” the Senate bill’s lead sponsor, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), said Monday in a statement.
“Putting an end to secret election spending by special interests is an essential step in protecting middle class priorities. For that reason, we are committed to continuing the debate on the DISCLOSE Act late into the night and asking for a second vote tomorrow if need be,” he said.
The legislation is a response to the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which allowed unlimited and anonymous campaign contributions to outside groups. The groups are not allowed to be connected to a candidate’s campaign.
Democrats have argued that the Citizens United decision is anti-democratic because it allows corporations and the wealthy a greater say in elections without requiring those interests to publicly reveal their contributions.
“We believe that all of the unlimited cash allowed by the Citizens United decision must at least be disclosed,” Schumer said. “This legislation seeks to limit the damage of the Supreme Court decision that has given corporations and the very wealthy unprecedented sway over our elections, and represents one of the most serious threats to the future of our democracy.”
“We are determined to prove that transparency is not a radical concept,” said Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.). “Our bill is as simple and straightforward as it gets — if you are making large donations to influence an election, the voters in that election should know who you are. The American people are blessed with common sense. They know that when someone will not admit to something, it is usually because there is something to hide.”
Other Democrats participating in the “vigil” are Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Michael Bennet (Colo.) and Al Franken (Minn.).