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DISCLOSE Act Falls Short But Advocates Vow to Keep Fighting

The Democrats’ move to invoke cloture on the DISCLOSE Act this afternoon fell short of the necessary 60 votes. The official tally ended up at 57-41, with every Republican voting against the motion. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) was absent, and Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) ended up voting “no” as a procedural move in order to be able to call another vote on the bill in the future.

Immediately following the vote, Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a nonpartisan organization that works to reduce the influence of money in American politics, issued a statement that argued, “No one should be deluded by today’s vote into thinking this battle is over.” He vowed that efforts to pass the DISCLOSE Act would continue in September, at which point some of the objections raised by Republican Sens. Snowe and Collins of Maine and Sen. Brown of Massachusetts about the timing of the bill would no longer apply:

Senator Snowe, Collins and Brown all raised concerns about passing the DISCLOSE Act in a time frame that would allow the new law to be effective for the 2010 congressional elections.

That is no longer a practical possibility.

We again strongly urge Senators Snowe, Collins and Brown, and any other Republican Senator interested in government transparency, to work with Senate supporters of the DISCLOSE Act to reach an agreement that they can support and that will reflect the interests of the American people.

This is no time for any Senator who is serious about campaign finance disclosure laws and government transparency to abandon the effort to ensure that voters know who is spending money to influence their votes.

In other words, now that the bill will likely not be brought up for another vote until September, Democracy 21 is arguing that it will not become effective quickly enough to have a large impact on the 2010 congressional races. That said, the language in the bill currently states that the new disclosure requirements must go into effect 30 days after the law’s enactment, so a mid-September passage could have advertisers scrambling to comply during the last few weeks of the election cycle.

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