Democrats’ Senate allies are unsuccessful to advance a bill he says would stop big business and foreign interests from flooding US elections with piles of campaign cash. Lawmakers voted 57-41 to end debate on the legislation, falling short of the 60 needed to move to final passage of the so-called DISCLOSE Act bitterly opposed by Republicans as an stealth effort to rig the November elections.
All 40 of the chamber’s Republicans contradicted the measure, while Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid voted against it in a tactical move enabling him to bring the bill up for a similar vote at any time — perhaps this week. Senator Joe Lieberman, who often votes with Democrats, and Republican John Ensign — were not present. Some Democrats have indicated they will vote against the bill in the final ballot, which would require just 50 votes to pass. The bill would require any political organization to make their donors public and ban foreign controlled corporations and government contractors from making political donations. The measure was a Democratic response to a Supreme Court ruling earlier this year that critics feared would open the floodgates for millions of dollars in special interest money to taint looming congressional elections. “Big corporations — even foreign-controlled ones — are now allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money on American elections,” Obama said in a personal appeal for the measure on Monday. “They can buy millions of dollars worth of TV ads — and worst of all, they don’t even have to reveal who’s actually paying for the ads.” The House of Representatives passed the bill in June. The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in January held that corporations could dip freely into their general funds to finance campaign ads either in support or against a particular political candidate. The ruling is expected to result in an even more intense barrage of campaign ads than usual in the run-up to mid-term congressional elections later this year, and in Obama’s 2012 reelection race.