Dems urge Obama to veto bill over campaign finance restrictions
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House Democrats are calling on President Obama to veto a GOP spending bill because of provisions to limit regulation of campaign finance.

In a letter to President Obama obtained by The Hill, 47 Democrats led by Rep. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenThe Memo: Outrage rises among liberals over Israel Is America slipping to autocracy? Trade representative says policy must protect key industries MORE (Md.) highlight three parts of the 2016 Financial Services appropriations bill that they warn would continue the flow of “secret money” in elections.

“The American people have a right to know who is bankrolling elections and who is attempting to influence their votes. If these legislative restrictions on transparency are not removed, we strongly urge you to veto this bill,” they wrote.


The provisions in question would prevent the Obama administration from issuing rules to require federal contractors or nonprofit social welfare organizations to publicly disclose campaign activities. Another part of the bill blocks the creation of regulations directing corporations to reveal campaign spending to shareholders.

Federal contractors and corporations cannot give money directly to candidates or party committees. They can create and donate through political action committees, but it must be disclosed.

The 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision allows corporations to contribute money through independent expenditure organizations, such as super PACs, that do not always fully reveal who their donors are.

Van Hollen, who is running for Senate, has made election financing a centerpiece of his campaign. Last week, he asked Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.), his Democratic primary rival, to sign a pledge turning down assistance from super PACs.

Van Hollen has also authored legislation he’s tried to push for years, called the DISCLOSE Act, that would expand campaign finance reporting requirements for corporations and outside groups.

Edwards, meanwhile, chairs a House Democratic task force on election reform. She is among the letter's signatories, along with House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).

The House GOP’s Financial Services spending bill is unlikely to hit the House floor this year because the entire annual appropriations process is stalled over the display of the Confederate flag. Republicans worry that Democrats will try to offer amendments related to the Confederate flag on future spending bills and force tough votes for the GOP.

House Republican leaders pulled the 2016 spending bill for the Interior Department earlier this month because of an amendment to ban the display of the Confederate flag in national cemeteries.

Before the Confederate flag controversy in the House, Senate Democrats blocked consideration of a spending bill for the Pentagon because of objections to budget caps known as sequestration and pledged to do the same for future appropriations measures. Congress therefore appears likely to pass a stopgap spending measure funding the full federal government when it returns from summer recess in September to avoid a shutdown on Oct. 1.