The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Rachel Wolf 415.233.0017

Key Leaders and Experts: Filibustering Transparency Is a Win for Corporate Special Interests

Today’s DISCLOSE Act Filibuster Highlights How Special Interests Win Big with Unprecedented Levels of Obstructionism


On the heels of a press call highlighting unprecedented filibuster abuse and a Senate Rules Committee hearing on the same topic, today's filibuster of the DISCLOSE Act once more demonstrates how unprecedented obstructionism is damaging the democratic process. Today's DISCLOSE Act filibuster marks the 119th filibuster of this Congress, on a bill that would have required organizations involved in political campaigning to disclose the identity of large donors.

"It is an insult to democracy that corporations are being allowed to secretly spend millions and millions of dollars to elect Republicans who will do their bidding, " said Michael Keegan, President of People for the American Way. "And it's even more shameful that Republicans are continuing to abuse filibusters in order to block even Senate debate on proposals for transparency and disclosure."

One of the primary concerns about the unprecedented abuse of the filibuster in recent years is that it allows Senators to hold a bill or nomination hostage to extort a ransom, usually to advance a pet project back home or to help a favored corporate special interest. The irony that some find in today's DISCLOSE Act filibuster is that the aim of the bill was to enhance transparency and minimize the influence of powerful special interests - yet was derailed by an undemocratic abuse of loopholes in Senate rules that favors powerful special interests.

"This is the moment that senators must stand up and show their constituents how they feel about transparency, and whether they truly believe that voters should know who is paying for what in campaigns," said Bob Edgar, President of Common Cause. "Without passage of this bill, voters will be in the dark during the mid-term elections. What's particularly ludicrous is using the filibuster--the most undemocratic maneuver--on a transparency bill."

The number of filibusters has ballooned in recent years. There is now an average of 70 filibusters per year, as opposed to approximately one per year through 1970. Additionally, it's not just the unprecedented usage of filibusters, but the threat of the filibuster and the knowledge that most any vote in the Senate will require 60 votes that is helping to derail the democratic process.

"Filibusters aren't about democracy," said Carl Pope, Executive Chairman of the Sierra Club on the press call Tuesday. "They're about special interests flexing their power."

Just yesterday, Senator Schumer (D-NY) convened the fifth of six Senate Rules Committee hearings to address the unprecedented levels of filibuster abuse in the current Congress.

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