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Public Statements

Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

The CHAIR. The gentleman from New Jersey is recognized for 5 minutes.

(Mr. ANDREWS asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Chairman, I believe this bill would be improved by an amendment similar to that which Ms. Eshoo just offered, and here's why. Justice Brandeis said sunlight is the great antiseptic of democracy, and we have followed his teaching to a great extent in conducting our democracy.

Mr. Chairman, you and I and every other Member on this floor must disclose every dollar we raise and every dollar we spend in the pursuit of our politics, so must the National Republican Campaign Committee, so must the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, so must people running for the United States Senate and for the Office of Presidency. And I think our democracy is strengthened by this.

Now, we have a disagreement over whether there should be limitations on what people may spend. I, frankly, believe that limitations are appropriate, but I know that some of our colleagues who follow the libertarian principle believe that limitations on what someone may spend is a violation of someone's right of free speech. I respectfully disagree, but I understand it. There should be no disagreement, though, over a universal requirement to disclose who has spent what.

If you're proud of what you say, then you ought to let people know who it was that said it. But instead we have, as my friend from California said, a dark corner of American politics where people who wish to manipulate the outcome of elections and influence legislation have a special privilege that Republicans and Democrats in this House do not have, that Members of the Senate do not have, that the Presidential candidates do not have. They can say what they want to say but not say who they are. They can hide behind corporate veils and within corporate shadows to fail to disclose who they are. Now, I find this to be puzzling.

I think the Members of this House are proud of what we say. I think the Members of this House want the public to know whom we support and whom we oppose because we believe in what we say. Who are these people who want to spend hundreds of millions, maybe billions, of dollars to influence elections but are afraid the public will find out who they are? And why should they enjoy this special privilege?

So I think we do need an amendment like that that Ms. Eshoo put forward that says that if you want the privilege of doing business with the United States Government, then one of the conditions is to participate in a healthy democracy that runs that United States Government. And that healthy democracy would include a requirement that people winning business with our government meet the same level of disclosure that every single one of us does.

I'm proud of the things that my party and my friends say on the floor; and I'm, frankly, proud of what our adversaries say on the floor because they believe in good faith that what they say is right for the country. And they don't hide a thing--maybe the public thinks we should hide sometimes when we say the things we do, but we don't hide a thing. Why should there be a special class of Americans who have the prerogative of free speech, but not the obligation to identify themselves when they speak?

This is an insipid, insidious threat to the free exchange of ideas. We should use every tool within our constitutional purview to stop this threat. I think Ms. Eshoo has a great idea, and I hope that under a truly open rule the day will come when we can consider her idea.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.


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