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Manchin: Money Causing Gridlock, Destroying Political Process

PHOTO: Sen. Joe Manchin, seen here with W.Va. Rep. Nick Rahall, is now co-sponsoring a constitutional amendment to limit campaign spending. Manchin said big money is at the root of Washington gridlock. Photo courtesy of Sen. Joe Manchin.
July 14. 2014
PHOTO: Sen. Joe Manchin, seen here with W.Va. Rep. Nick Rahall, is now co-sponsoring a constitutional amendment to limit campaign spending. Manchin said big money is at the root of Washington gridlock. Photo courtesy of Sen. Joe Manchin.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Saying "money is destroying the political process," Sen. Joe Manchin is co-sponsoring a constitutional amendment to limit huge campaign spending.

According to Manchin, the Citizens United ruling has contributed to a flood of big money drowning American politics. And that money is the source of the current stalemate in Congress, because, as Manchin said, "it's easier to vote no against everything."

"I've watched people being afraid to make a vote because they're afraid of how much money is going to be spent against them," said Manchin. "How much time, effort and money they'll need to defend themselves. And that's a sad scenario."

Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Joint Resolution 19, a constitutional amendment undoing the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision.

Manchin has gained national attention for his attempts to work with members of both parties. But he has also expressed exasperation at how rarely it happens.

No one likes huge campaign spending, said Manchin. Politicians feel it ties their hands, even the people giving money get tired of being asked.

"Billion-dollar presidential race, are you kidding me?" asked Manchin. "In 2016 that'll be for starters. The country's going to the highest bidder, I believe. Or it's perceived to be going to the highest bidder. You're going to have a few people who are able to play the game and that'll be it."

The constitutional amendment will have a hard time making it past a Republican filibuster in the Senate, and it faces even more opposition in the House, even though hundreds of cities and 16 states have called for Congress to pass it.

Manchin said he hopes Congress can pass some kind of workable campaign spending limit.

"Someone has to call a truce here," Manchin said. "Get some civility back, and some common sense. There has to be transparency. We've got to put a cap on this. Maybe we could get some Republican support to where we might have a chance of getting it."

In the 2010 Citizens United case, a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that political spending is a protected form of free speech.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV