Money Out, Voters In!
For Members of Congress, today is Day One back on the job after summer recess. And while the 113th Congress has been labeled “do-nothing,” several members of the U.S. House and Senate did something big on their first day back -- they rallied for democracy.
Under ominously grey skies, Senators Tom Udall, Bernie Sanders, Sheldon Whitehouse, Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and Representatives Ted Deutch and Jim McGovern joined dozens of citizens in front of the U.S. Capitol to send the message to the rest of Congress: We need to get money out and voters in.
The members and citizens were rallying in support of SJ Res 19, the “Democracy for All” bill, which the Senate will vote on tonight. The bill mandates that Congress pass legislation to address the undue influence of money in politics -- money that is drowning out the voices of average citizens who can’t match huge campaign contributions from billionaires. It would help to overturn bad Supreme Court decisions that have given corporate polluters more power and influence in politics.
Senator Udall of New Mexico introduced the bill, and set the stage Monday.
“We are here today to overturn Citizens United,” he said.
Citizens United is one of the bad Supreme Court decisions that stands in the way of democracy. In January, 2010, the Court voted 5 to 4 in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, effectively ruling that corporations are persons under the Constitution, setting the stage big corporations to give unlimited money contributions and essentially buy elections.
Senator Whitehouse from Rhode Island, a co-sponsor of the bill, noted that since the Citizens United decision, Republicans have been silent on things that everyday Americans care about, notably, carbon pollution and the climate action needed to reign in that pollution.
“The Citizens United decision is destined for infamy,” he said.
But this is not a partisan issue, as some of the Members like Senator Klobuchar noted. Campaign contributions for Democrats and Republicans alike should be regulated to level the playing field.
Boxes flanking the speakers’ podium contained comments by more than 3 million Americans to overturn Citizens United by supporting a constitutional amendment. The Democracy For All bill accomplishes that and more. These signatures were collected by dozens of organizations nationwide like the Sierra Club, which also sent a letter to the U.S. Senate today urging for passage of the bill.
“Working alongside reform-minded members of the Senate, a diverse and broad coalition of environmental groups, good government groups, and unions are standing up to champion reform and advance bipartisan legislative solutions to make Congress more responsive to the interests of average Americans – not just the super wealthy and corporate interests,” the letter reads. “The Udall-Bennet amendment is one of the critical steps to repairing our democracy.”
These comments, letters, and rallies are positive steps toward getting big money out of politics and restoring democracy in America.
--Sierra Club Media Team