Senate Republicans have blocked consideration of legislation that would have required organizations that spend money on elections to disclose the identities of donors contributing $10,000 or more.
On Thursday, the Disclose Act, had a 49-all vote, with Democrats voting "yes" and every on-site Republican voting "no." As such, the legislation didn't invoke cloture.
The two senators reportedly missing from Thursday's vote were Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho.
The legislation apparently aims to halt the notion of "dark money" in politics.
In a nutshell, dark money refers to political contributions from donors whose identities are not disclosed and that are typically used to influence elections. Super PACs are legally permitted to receive and spend these "independent expenditures," which have no cap on the contribution amounts.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., reportedly brought the bill to the floor, as a means of calling attention to the Senate Leadership Fund, a Super PAC linked to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Prior to the vote, Schumer said: "Republicans today must face the music. Either vote to bring transparency and fairness back to our elections as the vast majority of Americans want, or block this measure and cast their lot with the forces of dark money."
And after the vote failed to advance, McConnell dismissed the bill as a "liberal pet priority" that would give "unelected federal bureaucrats vastly more power over private citizens' First Amendment rights and political activism."
Also, McConnell criticized Democrats for rushing Thursday's vote, instead of crafting legislation to curb inflation or address other economic problems.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., has been calling for the elimination of dark money groups since 2010, when the Supreme Court enabled corporations and outside special-interest groups to submit unlimited donation amounts for federal elections.
In a release distributed prior to the vote, Whitehouse, who sponsored the legislation, noted that political spending by billionaires had increased from $17 million in the 2008 election to $1.2 billion in 2020.
"Even Leader McConnell used to support disclosure ... then he did a 180-degree about-face," said Schumer, who then recalled a McConnell statement from 1997 that financial disclosures were "the best disinfectant."
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