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Vote Expected in Senate Today on Amendment to Limit Campaign Spending

PHOTO: The U.S. Senate is expected to vote today (Monday) on a proposed constitutional amendment that would help take big money out of politics, and that was originally sponsored by Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico. Photo credit: Library of Congress.
PHOTO: The U.S. Senate is expected to vote today (Monday) on a proposed constitutional amendment that would help take big money out of politics, and that was originally sponsored by Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico. Photo credit: Library of Congress.
September 8, 2014

SANTA FE, N.M. – Advocates for campaign finance reform say the U.S. Senate is expected to make an historic vote today on Senate Joint Resolution 19.

That's the proposed constitutional amendment that would give Congress and the states control of political campaign spending limits.

Jonah Minkoff-Zern, campaign co-director at Public Citizen, says passage of the resolution is unlikely given that it needs two-thirds support, or 67 votes, to pass.

But he says the fact that it has broad political support is an important symbolic victory in what will likely be a long-term political effort to get big money out of politics.

"So the fact that we now have 50 senators and likely by the time the vote happens, the majority of the Senate, supporting a constitution amendment to get big money out of politics, is an enormous victory for our movement,” he explains. “And a great opportunity for people all around the country to discuss and see the issue."

Minkoff-Zern points out Supreme Court rulings – in Buckley versus Valeo in the 1970s and the more recent Citizens United and McCutcheon cases – basically have determined that spending money on elections is a form of speech or opinion, making campaign contributions, not simply campaign messages, a First Amendment issue.

Minkoff-Zern says people can help the effort to get big money out of politics by telling Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, who both support the amendment, that it's an important issue to them.
He says if not for Udall, who sponsored the resolution, today's vote might not be happening.

"Sen. Udall not only has been leading the effort this year, but intends on reintroducing it next year if it doesn't pass this year, and is excited to continue to play a leadership role in this," he points out.

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 - NM