Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor this morning in support of H.R. 5175, the Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act, which the House will vote on later today. Below are the Speaker's remarks.
“Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. I thank the gentleman for yielding and making the point he just made. I would also like to make a further point, which is that 87.5 percent of the American people support what the DISCLOSE Act will do, which is to shed light on elections.
“Madam Speaker, nearly a century ago, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote about the dangers of corporate interests dominating our economy, stifling competition, and harming our nation. And he reminded us, in the face of these forces, that ‘sunlight is the best of disinfectants.'
“Today, many of us will rise, and I do now, in that same tradition: to shed sunlight on our democratic process and preserve the integrity of our elections; to call to my colleagues, to call on them to pass the DISCLOSE Act, and in doing so, to protect the voices and the votes of the American people.
“I want to acknowledge key leaders on both sides of the aisle who have taken leadership on this legislation. Chairman Chris Van Hollen certainly has been tireless in his efforts to pass this DISCLOSE Act. Chairman Robert Brady, Chair of the House Administration Committee, and also some support from Congressman Mike Castle and Congressman Walter Jones, who early on supported this legislation.
“Earlier this year, the Supreme Court overturned decades of precedent in a court case called the Citizens United case. The decision undermines democracy and empowers the powerful.
“It opens the floodgates to a corporate takeover of our elections and invites unrestricted special interest dollars in our campaigns. And it even left open the door to donations from companies owned by foreign governments. Imagine.
“In response, Congress and the President immediately went to work on the DISCLOSE Act. This legislation restores transparency and accountability to federal campaigns, and ensures that Americans know when Wall Street, Big Oil, and health insurers are the ones behind political advertisements.
“The bill requires corporate CEOs to stand by their ads in the same way candidates do; prevents corporations controlled by foreign or even hostile governments from spending money in federal elections; and keeps government contractors and TARP recipients from making political expenditures. Imagine a TARP recipient getting money, taxpayer money to bail them out, using that money to impact elections.
“And it compels corporations and outside groups to disclose their campaign spending to shareholders, Members, and the public.
“In the spirit of Justice Brandeis, these landmark provisions will add sunlight to our campaigns, which is why the DISCLOSE Act has gained the support of good government advocates such as: Campaign Legal Center, League of Women Voters, Common Cause, Public Citizen, Democracy 21, and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington to name a few.
“These organizations - like so many Members of Congress - agree that, with the words of the President's State of the Union address this year, when he said elections ‘should be decided by the American people.'
“The DISCLOSE Act reaffirms a fundamental American value: the right to vote is afforded to the people, not the special interests.
“With this bill, no longer will corporations be able to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens. By voting yes, we are putting power back into the hands of the voters.
“I urge my colleagues to vote aye today on this legislation and yield back the balance of my time.”