Constitutional Amendment being considered today to limit campaign spending

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote today on a proposed constitutional amendment that would help take big money out of politics. Photo credit: Architect of the Capitol.

SALT LAKE CITY – Advocates for campaign finance reform say the U.S. Senate is expected to make an historic vote today on <a href=”http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c113:S.J.RES.19:” target=”parent”>Senate Joint Resolution 19</a>.

That’s the proposed constitutional amendment that would give Congress and the states control of political campaign spending limits.

Jonah Minkoff-Zern, campaign co-director at Public Citizen, says passage of the resolution is unlikely given that it needs two-thirds support, or 67 votes, to pass.

But he says broad political support is still an important symbolic victory in what will likely be a long-term political effort to get big money out of politics.

“So the fact that we now have 50 senators and likely by the time the vote happens, the majority of the Senate, supporting a constitution amendment to get big money out of politics, is an enormous victory for our movement,” he explains. “And a great opportunity for people all around the country to discuss and see the issue.”

Minkoff-Zern points out Supreme Court rulings have determined that spending money on elections is a form of speech or opinion, making campaign contributions, not simply campaign messages, a First Amendment issue.

Minkoff-Zern stresses Utahans can help the effort to get big money out of politics by putting pressure on U.S. Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee of Utah, who both oppose the amendment.

Although, Minkoff-Zern says Lee may be swaying on the issue.

“He’s someone that constituents should reach out to and encourage to support an amendment in the future,” Minkoff-Zern says. “I don’t think he’s going to vote yes on Sept. 8th, but I think he’s someone who’s reachable and really contemplating the issue.”

Passage of a constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds vote in Congress, and support from three-quarters, or 38, of the states.

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