Cicilline Takes Stand for Transparency, Forces Vote on DISCLOSE Act on House Floor

Jul 11, 2018

WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC) Co-Chair David N. Cicilline’s (RI-01) DISCLOSE Act (H.R.6239) today. Cicilline’s bill, which ends secret spending by corporations and billionaires, was defeated along party lines.

 

The full text of Cicilline’s remarks on the House floor is embedded below. A video of his remarks can be viewed by clicking the image below.  

 

David N. Cicilline
DISCLOSE Act

Remarks as Delivered

July 11, 2018

 

Mr. Speaker, Congress is broken.

 

Each day, more and more Americans are losing faith that their government actually works for them. More than 80% of Americans say they can’t trust Washington to do what’s right for them. More than two-thirds feel like our democracy is getting less responsive under Republican control.

 

They know what’s going on here. They know that they are caught in a system that’s rigged against them.

 

Their voices are ignored. Their concerns are dismissed. They don’t even get a seat at the table.

 

But the Republicans who control this chamber aren’t going to fix it. They’ve given away all the seats at the table to corporate special interests, to billionaires, and to the big banks and big pharmaceutical companies. And that’s why the interests of working people are not being protected.

 

My Republican friends are advancing the interests of powerful special interests who fund their campaigns. The corruption of our political system in this way has become business as usual here in Washington.

 

And, in this case, business as usual means billions of dollars in tax cuts for the wealthy and well-connected Republican campaign donors. It means endless attacks on workers’ rights and consumer protections. And it means trying to deny the right to vote to millions of eligible citizens while, at the same time, letting corporations spend as much as it takes to keep Republicans in power.

 

Business as usual for Republicans is a raw deal for the rest of us. And the American people are sick and tired of the raw deal they’ve been getting.

 

Democrats know that. We share their frustration. We know that Congress can do better. We know that we need to clean up Washington and get A Better Deal for Our Democracy. Democrats are committed to delivering real reforms to our political system that will restore government by and for the people of this great country. And that starts with fixing the way campaigns are run in America.

 

We need to break the stranglehold that secret corporate spending has on our elections. And we have a chance to do it right now.

 

If we defeat the previous question, we will have the chance to vote on the DISCLOSE Act, one of the key elements of delivering A Better Deal for Our Democracy.

 

The DISCLOSE Act, which I’ve introduced along with 162 co-sponsors in this chamber, will shine a light on the unlimited, secret corporate spending that has flooded American elections in recent years.

 

The DISCLOSE Act is simple – it requires that organizations that spend money in federal elections have to disclose their donors.

 

It closes one of the biggest loopholes that the Citizens United ruling opened – namely that corporations, billionaires, and even foreign governments can secretly funnel hundreds of millions of dollars into 501(c)(4)’s in order to covertly influence our campaigns.

 

This is a huge problem.

 

From 2004 to 2016, secret political spending in our presidential elections increased by over 3,000%. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is even reportedly investigating right now whether Vladimir Putin’s regime in Russia secretly funneled money through the NRA to help elect Donald Trump. And closer to home for all of us, just a few weeks ago, Speaker Ryan’s political fundraising group, the American Action Network, reported receiving a single $24.6 million contribution from an anonymous donor.

 

I don’t know who gave the American Action Network that money. You don’t know who gave them that money. But I have a feeling that whoever did is expecting something in return.

 

It’s no secret that the American people have lost faith in this institution and in their government. They look to Washington and they see a ruling party that will do whatever it takes to help their friends on Wall Street get ahead, but they won’t lift a finger for folks who are struggling to get by.

 

It doesn’t have to be this way.

 

We can restore the faith that’s been lost in this institution and in our government. We can build a government that’s worthy of the people we serve. We can end the rule of big money and begin a new era where working people get all the seats at the table.

 

But if we want to do that, the first thing we need to do is to make sure that political spending happens out in the open and not in total secret.

 

Let’s defeat the previous question.

 

Let’s have a real debate about fixing what’s wrong in Washington and start by passing the DISCLOSE Act to shine some light on dark money in our politics.