House Dems Preparing Thursday DISCLOSE Act Vote to Muzzle Pro-life, Pro-family Group
By Peter J. Smith
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 17, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Delayed, but not undaunted, the leadership of the Democrat-controlled U.S. Congress may force a Thursday vote on a new campaign finance bill, the Orwellian-named “Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act” that has pro-life, pro-family groups, and even the ACLU crying foul. Critics say the measure will have a chilling effect on political free speech, especially with mid-term elections just around the corner.
Late Wednesday afternoon, National Right to Life Legislative Director Douglas Johnson told LifeSiteNews.com that the House Rules Committee was meeting at that moment to make the DISCLOSE Act (HR 5175) ready for a full vote.
The bill forces many organizations to comply with what pro-life groups call “onerous” reporting requirements. These would disclose the donors and members of their organizations, and frustrate the ability of grassroots entities to communicate effectively about public policy.
Johnson told LSN that the vote “could be anytime during the day," but that Democratic leadership “could cancel if they feel that anything is going in the wrong direction.”
A few weeks ago, the bill seemed dead, but Democrats brought it back after striking a deal Monday that would exempt the powerful National Rifle Association from the requirements of the bill in exchange for their neutrality. A vote was anticipated for last week as well, but Congress went home early for the weekend after a scheduling change.
The NRA deal – since modified to cover organizations such as the Sierra Club – exempts 501(c)4 groups from having to report their donors if they have at least 500,000 members, over 10 years of existence, chapters in all 50 states, and receive no more than 15 percent of total contributions from corporations. The NRA has over 4 million members; the environmentalist Sierra Club has 750,000 members.
The deal leaves smaller and more numerous grassroots organizations, in particular the pro-life, pro-family movement and the decentralized conservative “Tea Party” movement, out in the cold.