CQ TODAY ONLINE NEWS
June 15, 2012 – 11:15 p.m.
Constitutional Amendment on Campaign Finance May Get Vote
By Alan K. Ota, CQ Staff
Some senior Senate Democrats are working to reopen the debate on campaign finance rules by pressing for a vote on a constitutional amendment that would grant Congress and the states more authority to regulate federal and state campaign spending and contributions.
Durbin said he hopes the hearing will build support for the resolution, which resembles proposals that attracted support from several Senate Republicans, including
Supporters argue that a constitutional amendment is needed to clarify the authority of Congress and the states to regulate campaign finance in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2009 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling, which ended restrictions on direct independent campaign expenditures by groups and companies. The impact of that ruling is being felt in this year’s campaigns, as super PACs, particularly those on the conservative side of the political spectrum, raise huge amounts of money to buy advertising.
“Citizens United has pushed us to a point where we have no alternative,” Durbin said.
Some Judiciary Committee Republicans — among them
And Minority Leader
But McCain left open the possibility that he will support sending a constitutional amendment to the states for ratification, citing concern about the impact of the Supreme Court ruling on the 2002 campaign finance overhaul (PL 107-55) he helped write. “I would have to look at how they want to do it and how much it might infringe on other First Amendment rights that people have. This is a very delicate business,” McCain said.
But McCain, Graham and many other Republicans are united in opposition to another Democrat-sponsored measure (
Udall brushed aside claims that his proposed amendment opening the door to new campaign finance restrictions would infringe on free-speech rights, saying it would merely let Congress, rather than the Supreme Court, set campaign finance ground rules.
He said his constitutional amendment is meant to reframe the debate to woo support from McCain and other Republicans. The Senate defeated a similar proposal in 2001. Among the four Republicans voting yes were McCain and Cochran.
Like it or not, Democrats will have to live with the Citizens United ruling this year and probably in future campaign cycles, unless the court changes its mind. Amending the Constitution requires a two-thirds vote in each chamber of Congress and the approval of at least 38 states.