Senator Menendez Remarks On The Senate Floor In Strong Support Of The Disclose Act

Senator Menendez Remarks On The Senate Floor In Strong Support Of The Disclose Act

Washington - Today, US Senator Menendez stood in the Senate floor to speak in strong support to the Disclose Act and encourage his Republican colleagues to do the same. The motion to proceed to the bill was defeated by a 57-41 vote. Below is a video and his full remarks as prepared for delivery:


Full text of remarks as prepared for delivery:

Mr. President, I have come to this floor countless times in the last few months to speak out for common sense legislation that is in the best interest of this nation.

I am compelled to come to the floor again to ask my Republican colleagues to stand up for what they know is right, to put aside the right-wing politics of vociferous minority in this country and say YES to reason, common sense, and good governance...

...and at least allow us to proceed.

But once again, they are not satisfied to come to the floor to vote against a bill. They will not even allow this body to consider the bill.

They will not even say YES to proceeding to the bill itself...

...a bill that would prevent foreign corporations from financing American political campaigns.

We all know that the Roberts Supreme Court and its activist conservative majority overruled, wrongly in my view, restrictions on spending by corporations and unions.

My colleagues on the other side are well aware that - as a result of a perceived loophole in current law, foreign corporations would now be allowed to fund American election campaigns - pick their candidates, candidates that would reflect their interests if elected - or defeat candidates who would not reflect their interest --- all without any meaningful mechanism for disclosure.

Mr. President, this is absurd on its face...

...Nothing could be more ill-advised or misguided...

...but here we are, once again, unable to proceed even to consider a bill that would remedy the situation.

Once again my Republican friends are standing in the way of even proceeding to the bill...

...standing in the way of what I consider to be good governance...

...all in the name of those in their Party who hold to some misguided attempt to twist first amendment rights to suit an ideologically based argument that somehow a requirement to disclose contributions would violate the first amendment -- but avoiding transparency is not a first amendment right... is the right of the American public to receive the information required by these proposed disclosure laws.

...And then they twist it even further - virtually saying that all money anywhere, even foreign money is somehow free speech in American elections.

I think the American people know that that is simply ludicrous on its face.

I do not believe that is what the people of New Jersey want...

They do not want foreign corporations influencing New Jersey elections.

It's not what the American electorate believes is right. It's not what they think is fair.

They do not want foreign corporate interests dumping money into a campaign to elect or defeat those who do not serve their foreign interest.

Allowing foreign corporations - which could potentially, directly or indirectly, include contributions from a foreign government - to influence our elections is not what any American believes is acceptable in our political process.

And yet, we can't even proceed to the bill.

We can't even get to vote on this legislation because Republicans once again have chosen to come to this floor, as they have on numerous occasions to say NO...

...NO to common sense...

...NO to the majority of the American people.

...NO: We won't even let the Senate consider legislation that would prevent foreign entities from picking winners and losers in American elections.

I am incredulous that our colleagues would say NO to proceeding to a bill that would stop foreign nationals, foreign corporate executives - and, conceivably, foreign governments from helping defeat or elect political candidates in American elections...

They are saying NO to that.

I do not know how my Republican colleague, the standard-bearer for the Republican Party in the last presidential election, will vote...

...but I do know that this is not what he came to this floor on countless occasions to fight for... He did not come to see reform that would leave American elections open to international campaign finance intrigue.

But now he too may vote NO to the kind of campaign reform that he - himself - championed.

Mr. President, our elections and our democracy, more than anything else, should always be 100 percent American.

It's bad enough that the true voice of the American people can be drowned out by big corporations now that the Supreme Court has made its misguided ruling...

But to now allow the voice of the American people to be drowned out by foreign corporations, foreign interests, foreign advocacy groups, is not only outrageous but a fundamental threat to our democratic process.

The door has been opened a crack for outside exploitation and influence over the direction of our nation.

I am at a loss to believe that my colleagues on the other side do not agree with us that we need to close the door and lock it...

...that the direction of our country, the decisions within our democracy, the sacredness of our electoral process must be decided and influenced by Americans and Americans only.

Mr. President, this is not a time for pure political obstructionism that plays to the extremes...

...this is not the time to stand in the way of good governance and common sense to score political points.

The Supreme Court decision left voters facing the possibility of corporations and advocacy groups spending hundreds of millions of dollars picking who they want to target - who they want to win and who they want to defeat - in the 2010 congressional races.

It provides for no meaningful disclosure of campaign expenditures or who's giving the money - even if it's a foreign corporation seeking to influence an American election.

We need to correct it.

The Disclose Act does just that. It fills the gap.

It does not favor anyone. It simply establishes reasonable, responsible, disclosure requirements for everyone.

I ask my friends on the other side, what could be wrong with knowing who is influencing our elections?

What's wrong with allowing us to even proceed to the bill that would prevents foreign corporations form picking winners and losers in American elections?

What's could be wrong with ensuring the integrity of our electoral process and protect it from foreign influence...

What could be wrong with that?

Thank you Mr. President. I yield the floor.