Floor Updates

Schumer, Shaheen, Udall-NM

Morning Business

Jan 26 2012

02:53 PM

Senator Schumer: (2:04 PM)
  • Spoke in opposition to the Supreme Court's decision on Citizens United v. FEC.
    • SUMMARY "I rise today to again call for increased disclosure of campaign contributions and expenditures so that the American people are informed about who is spending in our elections Now, this week marks the second anniversary of the Supreme Court's appalling decision in Citizens United in which Chief Justice Roberts and his cohort of activist judges overturned a century of legal precedent and created a flood of special interest group money spending - sending money coursing through the veins of American elections. It is my view that this decision has done more to poison our politics than most any other in recent times ... The court's decision created a loophole which allowed entities to create groups to serve as a conduit to anonymously funnel money and mislead the public about their true motives. The creation has also - the decision has also led to the creation of Super PACs. Super PAC's are not only able to receive contributions and spent money at unprecedented levels, they are able to do so without accountability, working under the protected shadow of anonymity What the decision does, Mr. President, is make our people feel more and more distant to our politics and our government, and that is corrosive for any democracy One of the foremost needs of our society is for a fair, functioning democracy where there is some semblance of equality that each person that votes has about the same weight in the system. We know that money has counterbalanced that fundamental fairness, but never has the balance been so put out of whack by this decision and this decision is just something that it's hard to believe our Supreme Court justices, whatever their ideology, went for In short, the Citizens United decision represents one of the most corrosive and destructive changes in law that has occurred in recent memory. Democracy is already struggling to stay afloat in a sea of powerful special interests, and this decision is an anchor around its neck. In my judgment, there is no more important step we can take to ensure America's continued greatness than to fight back about this deeply flawed decision, allowing anonymous special interests from subverting democracy. The need for reform is urgent."

Senator Shaheen: (2:12 PM)
  • Spoke in opposition to the Supreme Court's decision on Citizens United v. FEC.
    • SUMMARY "I'm pleased to join them today to talk about the importance of preserving our representative democracy by restoring some commonsense restrictions to our nation's campaign finance system. As we have heard, Saturday was the second anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in the case of Citizens United versus the Federal Election Commission. Already, we have seen how that decision has altered the landscape of politics in this country. When the Supreme Court struck down limits on corporate financing of elections, it ushered in the age of the super PACs. These so-called super PACs can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money during political campaigns with very limited disclosure requirements The commonsense restrictions that were struck down in the citizens united decision were part of legislation like the bipartisan campaign reform act of 2002, otherwise known as McCain-Feingold. Thoughtful legislation which had broad bipartisan support, limited soft money and corporate funding of political ads in a way - and campaign spending in a way that made sense. Our campaign finance system has gotten way off course, and it's time for us here in congress to help put it back on track. The unchecked influence of money in our elections compromises the very future of our representative democracy. The moneyed special interests and corporations have been given free rein to spend unlimited amount of money during campaigns and they don't need our help being heard. it's the homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages, the parents who want to send their children to college but aren't sure how they can afford it, unemployed workers who are looking for jobs hoping that tomorrow will be better than today, those are the voices that are being drowned out in a sea of corporate and special interest cash, and those are the voices of the American people that need to be heard in Washington. So as we think about on this second anniversary of this decision what we need to do to address it, to change the negative direction that it's taking this country, I urge all of my colleagues to turn their attention to this important work, to reach across the aisle to build consensus on this issue. Let us all tell the American people that we hear their voices calling for change. I look forward to speaking with all of my colleagues in the coming weeks and months about the specific approaches we can take to repair our broken campaign finance system, and hope that we will have the courage and the commitment to do something about this."

Senator Udall-NM: (2:17 PM)
  • Spoke in opposition to the Supreme Court's decision on Citizens United v. FEC.
    • SUMMARY "I believe the only way to truly fix the problem is to first amend the Constitution, to grant congress clear authority to regulate the campaign finance system. In November of last year, I introduced such an amendment, I'm proud to say that it currently has 19 cosponsors and support continues to grow. Our proposed constitutional amendment is broadly tailored and similar to bipartisan proposals introduced in similar sessions of congress dating back to 1983. It would authorize Congress to regulate the raising and spending of money for federal political campaigns, including independent expenditures and it would allow states to regulate such spending at their level. It would not dictate any specific policies or regulations. I chose my approach to not only overturn the previous bad court decisions but also to prevent future ones. We don't know what a future court may do. In Citizens United the court upheld campaign contribution disclosure requirement. A future court might declare the same laws unconstitutional. Our amendment would remedy this problem by restoring congress' authority If ratified the amendment would ensure that campaign finance laws would stand constitutional challenges regardless of the makeup of the Supreme Court The Citizens United decision was disastrous and it may have been the very catalyst we needed to build a movement to amend the Constitution. There's a groundswell of support growing across the country for a constitutional amendment to rein in the out-of-control campaign finance system Is it difficult to amend the constitution? Yes, and it should be. But I believe the growing momentum demonstrates that this is the right time for Congress to act. Our founders did not intend for elections to be bought and paid for by secretive super PACs. Our founders did not bequeath us a government of the millionaires, by the millionaires, and for the millionaires. Money can have a corrosive effect on the political process. We've seen evidence of that in campaigns at all levels of government. We need to put elections back in the hands of the average Americans and not in the hands of special interests with unlimited bank accounts. We need to answer to the American people and not just to the privileged. Our nation cannot afford a system that says come on in to the rich and powerful and says don't bother to everyone else. The faith of the American people in their electoral system is being corrupted by big money. It's time to restore that faith, it's time for Congress to take back control, it's time for a constitutional amendment that will allow real reform."