Washington Report: Updates From the Capitol

Jobs bill fails in Senate; House narrowly passes campaign finance law; White House gambit to end homelessness

House Narrowly Passes Campaign Finance Law

Money talks, especially in politics, but black candidates and advocacy groups are almost always at a disadvantage because they cannot compete financially against large groups and candidates backed by fat cat donors. As a result, certain groups have had a disproportionate level of influence over the nation’s political process.

On Thursday the House narrowly passed by a vote of 219 to 206 the Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Election (DISCLOSE) Act, which would require corporations, trade associations, advocacy groups and unions that purchase campaign advertising to disclose top donors and other financial information about how ads and mailings are paid for. The bill was crafted to serve as an antidote to a controversial Supreme Court ruling in January that overturned previous limits on political ad spending.

To win support for the legislation, Democratic leadership carved out a controversial exemption from parts of the bill for large groups like the National Rifle Association and the Sierra Club, raising the ire of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Several CBC members argued that the exemption excluded most black advocacy and civil rights groups, which leadership remedied. Some, like Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California), opposed the bill because of the National Rifle Association exemption and the Sierra Club, raising the ire of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Several CBC members argued that the exemption excluded most black advocacy and civil rights groups, which leadership remedied. Some, like Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California), opposed the bill because of the NRA exemption. That organization causes many of her constituents get killed, she told one lawmaker. Waters and 12 other CBC members voted against the bill.

That organization causes many of her constituents get killed, she told one lawmaker. Waters and 12 other CBC members voted against the bill.

Some black lawmakers voted for the measure despite reservations because they want curbs on spending that allows groups to have undue influence on issues that are important to their constituents or to attack a candidate who doesn’t have the means to fight back.

“Issue advocacy can be much more effective than advocating for a candidate and an issues ad that attacks a candidate can frankly do more damage than an ad that endorses a candidate. This is a real problem in American politics,” Rep. Artur Davis (D-Alabama), who supported the bill from the start.

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