Senate Falls Short on Obama's 'Disclose Act'

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WASHINGTON - Senate Democrats fell three votes shy of avoiding a GOP filibuster on a campaign finance bill Tuesday, effectively putting a halt to President Obama's push to rewrite fund-raising rules just months away from mid-term elections.

The president had called on Congress to pass the controversial campaign finance reform, despite many in his own party who voiced concerns.

The legislation was called the Disclose Act, which stands for "democracy is strengthened by casting light on spending in elections."

The measure would make businesses and most interest groups disclose more information about their political contributions. It would also require leaders of special interests to appear on camera during political ads paid for by their groups.
    
The issue stems from a Supreme Court ruling in January that opened the doors for corporations to spend as much money as they want on U.S. elections.

"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," Obama said earlier Tuesday. "These shadow groups are already forming and building war chests of tens of millions of dollars to influence the fall elections."

But critics say the Disclose Act should really be called the Dis-Robe Act, because it strips Americans of their First Amendment rights of political speech by making them disclose their donations if their ad or activities mention a politician.

"What it says is if you're an organization that says anything about the public issues of the day but happens to mention one person who's a politician who happens to be coming up for election that year - even if you don't endorse or condemn them - you come within the draconian restrictions of this act," explained Craig Parshall, senior vice president of the National Religious Broadcasters Association.

Parshall spoke more about why the National Religious Broadcasters Association is against this bill on the July 27 edtion of Newswatch. Click here to watch.
    
The American Civil Liberties Union also opposes the bill, arguing it would have a "chilling effect on political participation," because the bill would "severely impact donor anonymity."

The logjam in the Senate is a blow to Obama who vowed to reverse the high court's ruling during his State of the Union speech.

Meanwhile, Democrats have promised to take up the issue again this fall. However, even if the legislation passes, it's unlikely to have any effect on this year's elections.

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