A picture of Representative Adam B. Schiff
Adam S.
Democrat CA 28

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  • Rules of the House

    by Representative Adam B. Schiff

    Posted on 2013-01-03

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    SCHIFF. I thank the gentlewoman for yielding.



    I rise for two purposes: First, to oppose the rule, which institutes, again, the folly of spending taxpayer dollars to defend the unconstitutional, and that is DOMA. This was a poor waste of our resources in the last Congress. It will be an even worse utilization of scarce taxpayer dollars in this new session.

    {time} 1550 Second, I rise to raise another issue debated fiercely, and that is campaign finance reform. Clearly, our democracy is broken, with billions of dollars of campaign spending by special interests, much of it anonymous, flooding the airwaves this fall. In the last Congress, I introduced an amendment drafted by constitutional scholar Larry Tribe that would address the central flaw in reasoning underlying many of the Supreme Court's decisions, and that is the artificial distinction between contributions, which may be regulated, and supposedly independent expenditures, which may not.

    I don't support a constitutional amendment lightly and have found few that I would even entertain in my 12 years in Congress. Yes, unrestrained spending and the unmistakable tinge of corruption it creates demand action. Disclosure should come first. But the power to reasonably regulate both contributions and expenditures should follow. And that will require a constitutional amendment.

    Madam Speaker, I urge the House to defeat the previous question and, in doing so, set the stage for a debate of a constitutional amendment to restore transparency and accountability to our campaign finance system.

    Madam Speaker, we have just concluded another long, hard fought election year. Issues were debated, often fiercely, but that is as it should be in a democracy. Yet in one respect our democracy is clearly broken, Billions of dollars of campaign spending by special interests-- much of it anonymous--flooded the airwaves this fall. And because of a series of decisions by the Supreme Court, stretching from Buckley v. Valeo in 1976 up to Citizens United in 2010, regulating and limiting the influence of special interests on our elections is now largely beyond the power of the federal government or the states. We have seen the result all across our television screens as billions in spending by secretive Super PACs that smear candidates of all parties anonymously and unaccountably.

    Last Congress, I introduced an amendment drafted by leading Constitutional Scholar Lawrence Tribe that would address the central flaw in reasoning underlying the Court's decisions--the artificial distinction between direct contributions, which may be regulated, and supposedly independent expenditures, which may not. I do not support a constitutional amendment lightly and have found few I would even entertain in my 12 years in Congress. Yet unrestrained spending and the unmistakable tinge of corruption it creates demand action. Disclosure should come first. But the power to reasonably regulate both contribution and expenditure should follow; and that will require an Amendment.

    Madam Speaker, I urge the House to defeat the previous question and in doing so, set the stage for debate of a constitutional amendment to restore transparency and accountability to our campaign finance system. That's what the American people want, and our democracy requires.

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