Feinstein Expected to Vote in Favor of Campaign Spending Limits
SAN FRANCISCO - Senator Diane Feinstein is expected to vote in support of a constitutional amendment to give Congress and the states control of political campaign spending. Feinstein sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is expected to vote on Senate Joint Resolution 19 Thursday. Feinstein is among 40 senators cosponsoring the bill.
Jonah Minkoff-Zern, campaign co-director with Public Citizen, says the amendment would help reverse the effect big money has had on elections following multiple U.S. Supreme Court rulings that have increased campaign spending limits.
"Across political lines, people are saying they want a constitutional amendment, they want big money out of our political system," says Minkoff-Zern. "They see they're no longer in control of the people who are supposed to represent them."
Minkoff-Zern says Supreme Court rulings - in Buckley versus Valeo in the 1970s and the more recent Citizens United and McCutcheon cases - have determined spending money on elections is a form of speech or opinion, thereby making campaign contributions, not simply campaign messages, a First Amendment issue.
A Senate subcommittee approved Senate Joint Resolution 19 last month, and passage Thursday by the Senate Judiciary Committee will likely lead to a full Senate vote later this summer. Minkoff-Zern says the fact the Senate is considering a constitutional amendment is a win for the American people.
"For the over 550 local municipalities that have called for a constitutional amendment, for the 16 states that have called for a constitutional amendment, the fact the U.S. Senate is taking it up for a vote is a huge victory," he says.
Passage of a constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds vote in Congress, and support from three-quarters, or 38, of the states.