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Senate Vote Expected Today on Amendment to Limit Campaign Spending

PHOTO: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is among those supporting a proposed constitutional amendment that would give Congress and the states control of political campaign spending. The measure is scheduled for a vote Thursday. Photo courtesy of the Office of Senator Reid.
PHOTO: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is among those supporting a proposed constitutional amendment that would give Congress and the states control of political campaign spending. The measure is scheduled for a vote Thursday. Photo courtesy of the Office of Senator Reid.
July 10, 2014

CARSON CITY, Nev. - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid fully supports a proposed constitutional amendment that would give Congress and states control of political campaign spending limits. A Senate committee is expected to vote Thursday on Senate Joint Resolution 19. Reid 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 will likely lead to a full Senate vote later this summer.

Minkoff-Zern says Nevadans can help by asking the state's congressional delegation to support the constitutional amendment.

"In Nevada it's really important that Senator Reid hears support from his constituents for taking a key role in moving the constitutional amendment forward, while Senator Heller has stood on the sidelines and has not been supportive to this point," says Minkoff-Zern. "Senator Heller needs to hear from his constituents he should get on board as well."

Passage of a constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds vote in Congress, and support from three-quarters, or 38, of the states.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NV