Surprising no one, Republicans on Thursday blocked an attempt to rework the nation’s campaign finance laws.
New Mexico Democratic Sen. Tom Udall had proposed a Constitutional amendment to allow Congress and the states to govern campaign spending for federal candidates, an amendment that would have overruled the Supreme Court’s recent Citizens United decision, which allows corporations and wealthy individuals to spend unlimited amounts in political campaigns.
After a party line vote, the measure failed in the Senate—even if it had achieved the requisite 60 votes, however, it never would have passed a Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
The only thing surprising about the measure was the fact that the Senate voted on it at all, after 20 Republicans crossed party lines in a procedural vote to allow the Senate to debate the matter.But on msnbc earlier this week, Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken explained that even that wasn’t something to give reform advocates hope.
“Sometimes procedural votes are sometimes taken for cynical reasons. Every time we’ve tried to reverse Citizens United, Republicans have stopped us and I think this vote was taken to push down action in the Senate on other things, on minimum wage, equal pay, on student loans,” he said ahead of the vote. “I would love to think that we’re going to pass this, but we’re not.”
Republicans spent the debate arguing that massive political donations are actually a sign of free speech.
“I have to say it’s a little disconcerting to see the Democrat-led Senate focusing on things like reducing free speech protections for the American people,” Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday, according to The Hill. “This is what they chose to make their top legislative priority this week? Taking an eraser to the First Amendment.”