WASHINGTON — President Obama implored the Senate on Monday to pass a campaign finance law that Republicans and business groups are attacking as political censorship and an effort to limit the number of ads aimed at Democratic incumbents in November's elections.
In a White House Rose Garden speech, Obama blasted GOP resistance to the Disclose Act, a measure that would impose strict campaign donation disclosure requirements on unions and corporations that sponsor political ads.
"And you'd think that reducing corporate and even foreign influence over our elections would not be a partisan issue. But of course, this is Washington in 2010," Obama said. "And the Republican leadership in the Senate is once again using every tactic and every maneuver they can to prevent the Disclose Act from even coming up for an up or down vote."
Senate Democrats said they intend to seek today to end debate on the bill, authored by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., though they may not have the 60 votes they need.
Democrats crafted the bill after the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in January that struck down laws barring corporations and unions from directly supporting campaigns.
The bill would require most independent groups, including labor unions and corporations, to disclose the names of the top five donors whose money helped fund political ads. It also would require corporate and union executives to appear in political ads that their organizations help pay for and state that that he or she "approves this message," as candidates currently do in campaign commercials.
The bill also would prevent the use of federal TARP money in elections and curb contributions from foreign nationals and countries.
Republicans responded to Obama's criticism even before the president spoke, declaring in statement after statement that the bill is unconstitutional and an obvious attempt to protect congressional Democrats in November.
"The mere suggestion that a bill designed to save politicians' jobs should take precedent over helping millions of Americans find work is an embarrassing indictment of Democratic priorities," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. "The Disclose Act seeks to protect unpopular Democrat politicians by silencing their critics and exempting their campaign supporters from an all out attack on the First Amendment."