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Cole Criticizes DISCLOSE Act

June 24, 2010

WASHINGTON – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) made the following remarks on the House floor regarding H.R. 5175 - DISCLOSE Act (remarks as prepared for delivery):

Madame Speaker, I rise today in opposition to this incredibly restrictive rule and the underlying legislation. It is revealing of the lack of democracy and openness that exists in the House when the House Rules Committee, a Committee on which I once served, would self execute a 45-page "Manager's amendment" amendment to a 92-page bill, and make in order only 5 out of the other 36 amendments submitted. And by the way, only one those amendments made in order was offered by a Republican.

This of course has all been done in supporting passage of a bill popularly titled "Democracy is Strengthened by Casting light on Spending in Elections Act." I have a suggestion: How about strengthening democracy by actually allowing robust debate and actual votes on amendments? That would actually help to restore comity and bipartisanship to this polarized House.

With that said, Madame Speaker, I would like to also address the underlying legislation. In this bill, the majority is engaged in a self-serving, hypocritical political game. The underlying legislation is a response to a 5 to 4 Supreme Court Decision in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case.

Good people can disagree on this case and the resulting fallout. However, when one party decides to reshape the political playing field with a bill written by its political tacticians and introduced by the Chairman of its own campaign committee, we have reached a new low. The clear aim of this legislation is to tilt the political playing field in favor of the Democratic party. Simply put, this bill facilitates the involvement and political activities of groups supportive of the Democratic party, while limiting the political activities of those who do not support the Democratic agenda.

A clear example of this is where the bill applies onerous restrictions on corporations which may wish to involve themselves in political activity while carving out large exemptions for unions which traditionally support the Democratic agenda.

Madame Speaker, this is not the way good legislation is passed. This is a prescription for chaos in our elections,and will fundamentally restrict our First Amendment rights.

Therefore, I would urge members to oppose this rule, and the underlying legislation. Taking away freedom of speech in the pursuit of partisan political advantage is fundamentally wrong.