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Public Statements

Terminating Presidential Election Campaign Fund and Election Assistance Commission

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Ms. PELOSI. Mr. Speaker, I come to the House floor today to reaffirm a fundamental value of our democracy: elections must be decided by the American people, not the special interests. I come to the floor to defend the right of American citizens to vote in every election. I come to the floor on behalf of clean campaigns.

Republicans, instead, have brought to the floor legislation that would both diminish the voting rights of Americans and shift control of our elections into the hands of secret corporate donors. Once again, Republicans refuse to focus on creating jobs and strengthening the economy for middle-class Americans, the 99 percent, but are instead pursuing a narrow agenda to benefit special interests, the 1 percent.

Last year, the Supreme Court overturned decades of precedent in a court case called the Citizens United case. Their decision has undermined our democracy and empowered the powerful by opening the floodgates to big, secret money, resulting in a corporate takeover of our elections.

As a result, the Democratic majority in the Congress, working with President Obama, created the DISCLOSE Act. It would restore transparency and accountability to federal campaigns, and ensure that Americans know who is behind political advertisements.

Democrats in the House passed the DISCLOSE Act, but Senate Republicans blocked its progress.

As a result, secret dollars are flowing into campaigns that represent the interests of the 1 percent--not the urgent national interest--to create jobs. Indeed, special-interest groups spent tens of millions of dollars more in 2010 than any previous election cycle.

Today, Republicans want to take it another step further. The anti-reform legislation we debate today strengthens the role of foreign-owned entities and large corporations in funding political campaigns by eliminating the Presidential Election Fund. For nearly 30 years, the Fund has promoted small campaign donations and disclosure. It should be strengthened and reformed, not eliminated.

Likewise, the legislation also eliminates the Election Assistance Commission, which was created in the aftermath of 2000 elections. The EAC should also be strengthened, especially as states across the nation are taking active efforts to enact partisan measures to disenfranchise the rights of American voters.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU: since the 2010 elections, almost 34 states have introduced voting legislation in 2011 that significantly impacts access to voting. These laws have the potential of eliminating or making voting harder for more than 5 million Americans--harming millions of minorities, and hindering the rights of seniors, students, and low income voters.

This legislation is opposed by a broad range of good government organizations, from the League of Women Voters, to Americans for Campaign Reform, to Democracy 21, and U.S. PIRG. In a letter, they have warned against a 2012 presidential campaign ``being dominated by bundlers, big donors, Super PACs, candidate-specific Super PACs, secret contributions and the like.''

Further, polls have found that more than 70 percent of the American people support the continuation of the presidential public financing system.

In our democracy, voters determine the outcome of our elections--not special interests.

I urge my colleagues to oppose this effort to further empower the special interests--the 1 percent--in American elections--and to protect the right to vote for all Americans.

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