Jon Tester on Government Reform
Democratic Jr Senator
Tester, ever the opponent of Citizens United, acknowledged the problem in his closing statement. "We're back in 1912," he said, harkening back to the days of Montana's Copper Kings. "We've come back to a time when corporations can give unlimited amounts of money, secret money, and influence the political structure of this country. And that's scary for a democracy."
But Rehberg, who had no response when asked directly how much outside interests had spent in this race, doesn't seem to be too troubled by where that money is coming from.
Rehberg appeared to speak favorably of Citizens United, saying political free speech is the most important, but he added that he supports 100 percent transparency with campaign donations.
The problem, Tester pointed out, is that Citizens United doesn't require transparency in reporting political contributions.
The decision has been derided by many Montana politicians. Montana, 21 other states and the District of Columbia have asked the high court to rule that Citizens United doesn't apply to Montana's or other state laws regulating corporate campaign spending.
Rehberg said he supported the 2010 ruling, although he added that there should be full transparency on where campaign money is coming from. "There should be nothing more free than political free speech," he said.
Tester responded that "corporations are not people. Because of Citizens United, corporations have more rights when it comes to donations than people do," he said.
TESTER: The current process of earmarking in the middle of the night, without transparency, is the wrong way for representative democracy to be working. Good projects, like this land-grant university, can stand up to the scrutiny of the light of day. Quite frankly, I don’t support earmarks, period.
If a project’s a good project, which includes probably most if not all of those 34 earmarks, they could withstand scrutiny in front of the entire Congress. I’m not for earmarks because they don’t pass public scrutiny with the transparency that our government and our forefathers set up.
JONES: Incumbents always put something in the transportation bill so they can brag about all the money they brought to the state. None of the 34 are qualified.
BURNS: I’m proud about what I brought back to Montana. That money’s going to be spent somewhere in America, and I want Montana to get her share.
A: I’d start with no-bid contracts in Iraq. That’s kind of wild. Then negotiations for Medicare Part D prescription drugs--I negotiate when I go to buy a pickup truck, so we ought to be negotiating-- but that’s what happens when you have big pharmaceutical companies writing legislation. It’s time that we spend the money wiser, that we prioritize better, and start looking out for middle class folks. But that’s not the people who have control- the cronies on K-Street that buy votes have more control than the folks that elect us. You need to have people back there in Washington who have experience balancing a checkbook and setting priorities. I have balanced a checkbook in the private sector and in the public sector. My opponent has not been able to do that.
“I’m all for strengthening rules, but it’s even more important to change the culture of corruption. We need to let Washington know now that the ‘For Sale’ sign has to come down, and Conrad Burns’ days of ‘pay-to-play’ are ending,” Tester said. “But judging by how some of the so-called reforms are already meeting resistance from Washington insiders-senators and lobbyists-I’m not going to hold my breath.”
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D, FL-20): We, as Members of Congress, have responsibility not just for the institution, but for the staff that work for this institution, and to preserve the facilities that help support this institution. We have endeavored to do that responsibly, and I believe we have accomplished that goal.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. SCALISE (R, LA-1): It's a sad day when someone attempts to cut spending in a bill that grows government by the size of 7%, and it's not allowed to be debated on this House floor. Some of their Members actually used the term "nonsense" and "foolishness" when describing our amendments to cut spending; they call that a delaying tactic. Well, I think Americans all across this country want more of those types of delaying tactics to slow down this runaway train of massive Federal spending. Every dollar we spend from today all the way through the end of this year is borrowed money. We don't have that money. We need to control what we're spending.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Sen. ORRIN HATCH (R-UT): I am cosponsoring the legislation to provide a House seat for DC and an additional House seat for Utah. Representation and suffrage are so central to the American system of self-government that America's founders warned that limiting suffrage would risk another revolution and could prevent ratification of the Constitution. The Supreme Court held in 1820 that Congress' legislative authority over DC allows taxation of DC. Do opponents of giving DC a House seat believe that DC is suitable for taxation but not for representation?
Opponent's argument to vote No:Sen. JOHN McCAIN (R-AZ): I make a constitutional point of order against this bill on the grounds that it violates article I, section 2, of the Constitution. I appreciate the frustration felt by the residents of DC at the absence of a vote in Congress. According to many experts, DC is not a State, so therefore is not entitled to that representation. Also, one has to raise the obvious question: If DC is entitled to a Representative, why isn't Puerto Rico, which would probably entail 9 or 10 Members of Congress? [With regards to the seat for Utah], this is obviously partisan horse-trading.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Sen. BYRD: In 1978, I voted for H.J. Res. 554, that proposed amending the Constitution to provide for representation of D.C. [That amendment passed the Senate but was not ratified by the States]. While I recognize that others believe that the Constitution authorizes the Congress to "exercise exclusive legislation" over D.C., the historical intent of the Founders on this point is unclear. I oppose S.1257, because I doubt that our Nation's Founding Fathers ever intended that the Congress should be able to change the text of the Constitution by passing a simple bill.
Proponents support voting YES because:
Sen. HATCH. There are conservative and liberal advocates on both sides of this issue,and think most people know Utah was not treated fairly after the last census. For those who are so sure this is unconstitutional, [we include an] expedited provision that will get us to the Supreme Court to make an appropriate decision. It will never pass as a constitutional amendment. There are 600,000 people in D.C., never contemplated by the Founders of this country to be without the right to vote. They are the only people in this country who do not have a right to vote for their own representative in the House. This bill would remedy that situation.
Proponents support voting YES because:
Sen. DOLE. I am proposing a commonsense measure to uphold the integrity of Federal elections. My amendment to require voters to show photo identification at the polls would go a long way in minimizing potential for voter fraud. When a fraudulent vote is cast and counted, the vote of a legitimate voter is cancelled. This is wrong, and my amendment would help ensure that one of the hallmarks of our democracy, our free and fair elections, is protected. Opinion polls repeatedly confirm that Americans overwhelmingly support this initiative.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Sen. FEINSTEIN. If one would want to suppress the vote in the 2008 election, one would vote for this because this measure goes into effect January 1, 2008. It provides that everybody who votes essentially would have to have a photo ID. If you want to suppress the minority vote, the elderly vote, the poor vote, this is exactly the way to do it. Many of these people do not have driver's licenses. This amendment would cost hundreds of millions of dollars to actually carry out. It goes into effect--surprise--January 1, 2008 [to affect the presidential election]. I urge a "no" vote.
Congressional Summary:Fair Elections Now Act--Amends 1971 FECA with respect to:
Statement of support for corresponding Senate bill: (Sunlight Foundation) Now we bring you the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act, a bill that should probably be the least controversial of all. S. 375 would simply require senators and Senate candidates to file their public campaign finance disclosure reports electronically with the Federal Election Commission, the way House candidates and presidential candidates have been filing for over a decade. A version of the bill has been introduced during every congress starting in 2003 (!) yet it has been blocked repeatedly, a victim of political football.
Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., has introduced the most recent version, which would ensure that paper Senate campaign finance reports are a thing of the past. But even with 50 bipartisan cosponsors, the bill faces an uphill battle. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, has repeatedly prevented the bill from coming to the Senate floor. We won't be deterred--as long as McConnell continues to block the bill, we'll continue to highlight that his intransigence results in delayed disclosure of vital, public campaign finance information, not to mention wasting $500,000 in taxpayer money annually. Eventually, we'll win.
Supporters reasons for voting YEA:Rep. Sarbanes: Big money warps Congress' priorities and erodes the public's trust in government. This bold new legislation returns voice and power back to the American people:
Opponents reasons for voting NAY:(Bill Moyers, Feb. 19, 2015): This citizen engagement strategy, particularly when used to court small donors, is not without its critics. Small donors, at least in the current system, often tend to be political ideologues. That trend leaves many asking: won't moving to small donors just empower extremists? Sarbanes counters, if Congress changes the political fundraising rules, they will also change the calculus for "the rational small donor who right now isn't going to give $25 because they've figured out that it's not going to matter." The prospect of a 6-to-1 match might very well impact how those less ideologically extreme potential donors think about political giving.
A bill to prevent Members of Congress from receiving any automatic pay adjustment in 2010.
For purposes of the provision of law amended by section 704(a)(2)(B) of the Ethics Reform Act of 1989 (5 U.S.C. 5318 note), no adjustment under section 5303 of title 5, United States Code, shall be considered to have taken effect in fiscal year 2010 in the rates of pay under the General Schedule.
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