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Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. PASCRELL. I yield myself 2 minutes.

The DISCLOSE Act is an important piece of legislation. I want to commend Mr. Van Hollen, Chairman Brady, and their staff. I also want to thank Mr. Perriello and Mr. Grayson for working with me on this important amendment.

One of the most troubling aspects of the Citizens United decision was the opening of a loophole that could allow multinational corporations with significant foreign ownership to spend prolifically in American elections. Who in God's name would want to have foreign governments involved investing in our elections? The DISCLOSE Act, as written, attempts to limit the ability of foreign nationals to launder their cash through these domestic corporations by imposing limitations on foreign ownership, foreign membership on corporate boards, and executive power.

This amendment would strengthen this provision in two important ways. My amendment lowers the allowable foreign ownership percentage from 20 percent to 5 percent when the foreign owner is a foreign government, foreign government official, or foreign government-controlled company like a sovereign wealth fund. I believe it is important to draw this distinction between the average foreign citizen and foreign governments who could seek to exploit this loophole to influence our elections based on the policies of their governments and not the citizens of our country.

The second provision of my amendment would close a potential loophole that could allow a majority foreign-owned corporation to continue to make political expenditures so long as no single shareholder owns more than 20 percent of the company. My amendment would prohibit expenditures by corporations who have a majority of their shares owned by foreign nationals even if no single shareholder meets the 20 percent threshold.

I believe this is an important amendment. These commonsense provisions will ensure strong protections for our elections from unprecedented foreign influence and spending.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. PASCRELL. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the balance of my time.

First of all, Mr. Chairman, the courts will apply section 102 of the DISCLOSE Act to labor unions as well as corporations. Unions will be required to certify that they are in compliance with the safeguards against foreign ownership and control.

It is our duty, Mr. Chairman, to pass the strongest possible restrictions to keep foreign money out of our elections, and keep American elections decided by the American people.

The DISCLOSE Act is a good first step towards empowering the American citizens in our elections. I urge the House to approve this amendment and to strengthen this important piece of legislation. And I want to commend Mr. Van Hollen and Mr. Brady.

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