WASHINGTON - House Democrats have reached an agreement
with the National Rifle Association on campaign-finance legislation
that would roll back the Citizens United Supreme Court decision,
removing a major obstacle on the bill, according to House sources.
The deal would exempt the NRA and some other large organizations from
strict campaign finance disclosures in the bill, which is being pushed
by Democratic leaders in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in the
Citizens United case. The NRA had objected to some of the disclosure
requirements for the new campaign finance proposals, and that had kept
moderate, pro-gun Democrats from backing the legislation. The NRA said
it would not comment until specific legislative language is revealed.
But if there is an agreement in principle, the bill could come to the House floor as early as this week.
That Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case removed all
barriers on corporations or unions from running TV ads opposing or
backing candidates in the run-up to an election. Democratic leaders
fear the decision could open the floodgates for corporate money to flow
into the year’s mid-term elections, which they believe would favor
Republicans, and they have vowed to pass legislation to require public
disclosure of such activities.
Under the original bill, offered by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.),
chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, groups
like the NRA would have to disclose their top donors if they chose to
run TV ads or send out mass mailings in the final months of an
Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), who supports the Van Hollen bill yet is
also an NRA backer, had offered an amendment to exempt the NRA and
other non-profits from the legislation, but that move drew objections
from campaign watchdog groups.
The new agreement would exempt organizations that have over one million
members, have been in existence for more than 10 years, have members in
all 50 states, and raise 15 percent or less of their funds from
corporations, from the disclosure requirements. The NRA, with four
million members, would fall into the exempted category and will not
oppose the DISCLOSE Act now, according to Democratic sources.
But the Chamber of Commerce still opposes the legislation, and its not
clear that the Senate will take it up even if the House passes it.