Remember that supposed Constitutional amendment to restrict political spending by the Koch brothers and repudiate the Citizens United decision? The one that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was hell-bent on bringing up for repeated floor votes? The one that was supposed to be the “salvation of our country,” as Reid declared in May?
Well, consider the country unsaved. The amendment bill died today. And thanks to some procedural Russian roulette from Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), it appears to have died for good.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), aimed to add an amendment to the U.S. Constitution handing Congress the regulatory power to limit and oversee campaign spending for federal elections. It would also have granted the same power to states to similarly regulate state-level campaign spending. Reid had drawn a line in the sand earlier this year, saying such an amendment is do-or-die for an American elections system hijacked by Koch money.
“It’s been tried before, we should continue to push this and it should become our issue. That really puts the Koch brothers up against it. We believe and I believe that there should be spending limits,” he had said. “… We’re going to arrange a vote on it. We’re going to do it until we pass it because that’s the salvation of our country.”
The bill was never anything more than political theater, a scripted token of Reid’s Koch-ranting midterm elections strategy designed to lay blame at Republicans’ feet for obstructing campaign finance reform. “This bill has no chance of amending the Constitution, or Harry Reid wouldn’t be ready to stage a floor show themed around a phony battle against evil Republicans intent on frustrating its chances,” we wrote in May. “This is the kind of bill that makes for great Sunday news show fodder once it’s failed.”
One big problem: The bill didn’t fail the way Reid had planned. It failed honestly, so to speak, rather than dishonestly. From Washington Examiner today:
Democrats never really thought the measure would go anywhere, as they drafted it on the assumption Republicans would immediately block it. Democrats had hoped then to hold up the vote as an example of GOP obstructionism, a ploy they expected to exploit ahead of the November congressional elections.
But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called Reid’s bluff Monday when he allowed the measure to advance on an initial procedural vote, turning what was supposed to be a Democratic messaging bill against them. McConnell allowed a second procedural vote to pass Wednesday on a voice vote.
The Kentucky Republican then blasted Reid for wasting Senate time on a measure he knew had a slim chance of passing.
So the measure died in today’s partisan 54-42 vote. (It needed 60 to continue.) As majority leader, Reid typically votes against ill-fated bills he supports, since he can reconsider a measure after having voted against it. But since the thing made it all the way to a full Senate vote, he was compelled to vote his… conscience… on a motion to proceed.
Here’s a link to the Examiner’s Tuesday story on how McConnell and the Senate GOP got set to win this one. It has a funny headline.