None Shall Pass.

By a vote of 57-41 (or should that be 41-57), Senate Republicans have blocked a motion to proceed with debate on the DISCLOSE Act. As I wrote earlier today, this isn't much of a surprise. But given the quality of the legislation, it's still disappointing.

The most galling "no" votes came from the Republican Party's self-described "moderates": Scott Brown, Susan Collins, and Olympia Snowe. Both Collins and Snowe voted for the significantly more restrictive McCain-Feingold in 2001, which makes today's vote a little strange. Indeed, Democrats purposefully limited the bill's scope to transparency, in an effort to gain support from the Maine senators. But even that concession wasn't enough for  Collins and Snowe to support debate, much less the bill itself.

As for Sen. Brown, his vote stands in opposition to his campaign pledge to end "backroom deals" and restore some measure of transparency to Washington. Particularly when you consider that the  DISCLOSE Act would require senatorial campaigns to file online reports with the FEC, and aggregate them into a searchable database. It seems that despite his campaign enthusiasm for transparency, Brown isn't particularly keen on giving voters the tools to track his fundraising.

It's really difficult to overstate the absurdity of the situation. Fifty-seven Democratic senators, representing a solid majority of the American people, were unable to begin debate on a bill, despite the fact that a huge majority of Americans opposed the Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United, and a solid majority supported legislative efforts to work around the Court's limitations. But thanks to the filibuster, conservatives have successfully short-circuited this dialogue between the courts and Congress, just so they can further advantage the wealthy and privileged.

Between Citizen's United and the DISCLOSE Act, we've witnessed something genuinely incredible: in the interest of furthering the interests of powerful corporations, a narrow majority of Supreme Court conservative justices overturned decades of campaign finance precedent, and a small minority of conservative senators blocked congressional efforts at reform. At the risk of sounding really exasperated, this is absolutely insane.

-- Jamelle Bouie

You may also like