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Senate Committee Approves Udall's Amendment to Limit Campaign Spending

PHOTO: The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committed voted on Thursday to pass a proposed constitutional amendment to give states and Congress more control of political campaign spending. The 10-8 vote was along party lines. Photo courtesy U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.
PHOTO: The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committed voted on Thursday to pass a proposed constitutional amendment to give states and Congress more control of political campaign spending. The 10-8 vote was along party lines. Photo courtesy U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.
July 11, 2014

SANTA FE, N.M. - A constitutional amendment proposed by Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., that would give states and Congress control over political campaign spending is moving forward, following a Senate committee vote in favor of the resolution.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10-8 along party lines Thursday to pass Senate Joint Resolution 19. Stephen Spaulding, policy counsel for the group Common Cause, said passing the amendment would help restore some balance to political spending.

"This amendment would restore the ability of Congress and the states to set reasonable limits on campaign contributions and political spending," he said, "so that our elected officials will be more responsive to their voters than to their donors and those that fund their campaigns."

Spaulding said multiple U.S. Supreme Court rulings, including the decisions known as Citizens United and McCutcheon, have increased political spending limits, allowing millionaires and billionaires greater influence over elections.

SJR 19 is headed for a full Senate vote, where it will need two-thirds support, or 67 votes, to pass and advance to the House of Representatives. Spaulding acknowledged that at least a dozen Senate Republicans would have to vote for the amendment in order for that to happen.

"But we know that it's an uphill battle, so that's why it's critical that senators from both sides of the aisle hear from their constituents," he said. "Because there is a broad consensus that money has far too much power, in Washington and in statehouses."

Spaulding said it's not yet clear when the Senate will vote on the resolution, but his guess is later this summer, after the August recess. Passage of a constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress, and support from at least three-quarters, or 38, of the states.

Text of the resolution is online at thomas.loc.gov.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NM