In a budget deal so massive and hurried that it’s almost impossible anyone could have read it before voting on it, Congress included a provision that profoundly expands the amount of money single donors can contribute to political causes during an election cycle.
It’s a change that received no prior discussion or public acknowledgment, according to The Washington Post:
The provision — one of the most significant changes to the campaign finance system since the landmark McCain-Feingold measure — was written behind closed doors with no public debate. Instead, it surfaced at the last minute in the final pages of a 1,603-page spending bill, which Congress is rushing to pass to keep government operations from shutting down.
While leaders from both major parties wouldn’t comment to the Post on the provision, neither camp can claim the partisan high ground. The provision raises the limit on individual contributions for national party committees to three times the current amount.
It’s a move “heralded by party supporters, who said it would replenish the official Democratic and Republican organizations, which were left weakened by a 2002 ban on soft money and the subsequent rise of super PACs and other outside groups,” the Post observed.
In other words, it consolidates fundraising power for the two-party system, just as that system has been stung by the early signs of a changing, more populist political landscape.
“Republican and Democratic congressional leaders have entered into a Faustian bargain to return the massive corrupting contributions raised by federal officeholders for the national parties that Congress banned in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002,” one watchdog told the Post in an earlier report.