DISCLOSE ACT (restrictions on free speech about federal politicians)

Senate Roll Call No. 240
111th Congress, 2nd Session

Rejected: 59-39 (see complete tally)
On September 23, 2010, the U.S. Senate conducted a vote on whether to take up the so-called "DISCLOSE Act" (S. 3628), a bill crafted by Democratic congressional leaders and the Obama White House in response to the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, handed down on January 21, 2010.  In that case, the Supreme Court invalidated certain federal laws and regulations that had prevented an incorporated group called Citizens United from buying TV ads to promote a movie critical of Hillary Clinton while she was running for president.  By a 5-4 vote, the Court ruled that the First Amendment protects the right of corporations to spend money on ads or other communications that criticize or praise those who hold or seek federal office.  The "DISCLOSE Act" is intended to make it as difficult as possible for corporations (including nonprofit, issue-oriented corporations such as NRLC) to spend money to communicate with the public about the actions of federal officeholders, by applying an array of restrictions on ads, as well as requirements that violate the privacy rights of donors.  NRLC expressed its strong opposition to the bill in a letter sent to the Senate on July 23, 2010 (to view or download the letter, click here).  NRLC said that the overriding purpose of the legislation is "to discourage, as much as possible, disfavored groups (such as NRLC) from communicating about officeholders, by exposing citizens who support such efforts to harassment and intimidation, and by smothering organizations in layer on layer of record keeping and reporting requirements, all backed by the threat of civil and criminal sanctions."   On September 23, 2010, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.) attempted to "proceed to" (take up) the DISCLOSE Act.  Because Republican senators threatened a filibuster, Reid was forced to make a "cloture" motion, which requires 60 votes for approval, and which fell short, 59-39.  All 59 Senate Democrats voted to take up the bill, and all of the 39 negative votes were by Republicans.  Therefore, the bill died.  Senate roll call no. 240.

Vote Map: Senate Roll Call No. 240
Votes For : 59
Votes Against : 39
Not Voting : 2

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