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Public Statements

Prohibiting Use of Presidential Election Campaign Funds for Party Conventions

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. PRICE of North Carolina. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to H.R. 5912. This bill is flawed in substance and comes to the floor without serious deliberation or debate.

I want to make clear, however, that my colleague from Oklahoma and I agree that paying for presidential nominating conventions is not a wise use of taxpayer dollars. In fact, the main provisions of Mr. COLE's bill are included nearly verbatim in my Presidential Funding Act H.R. 414. However, H.R. 5912 excludes a critical prohibition on the use of ``soft money'' to fund conventions, keeping the door open for unlimited soft money donations from corporations and high-dollar special interests. Allowing conventions to accept millions of dollars in these unregulated contributions could threaten the credibility of the nominating process and further erode the principle of one voice, one vote.

I also take issue with the closed process under which this bill has been brought to the floor. H.R. 5912 is being considered under suspension of the rules, without amendments, committee markup, or serious deliberation. The Committee on House Administration has not even held hearings on this bill. But that should come as no surprise--the Majority has not held a single hearing on the issue of campaign finance in the 112th Congress, a period that has seen the House pass bills dismantling many of the common-sense campaign reforms of the post-Watergate era. I have opposed repeated floor votes that would repeal the presidential public financing system as a whole. This bill is merely the latest cynical attempt to attack the system with no effort to replace it.

In the wake of the Supreme Court's thoroughly misguided Citizens United decision, we should be working to strengthen--not to weaken--the rules that ensure our elections are free and fair. That is why Mr. VAN HOLLEN, other colleagues, and I will introduce a bill later this week which will be an important first step toward the comprehensive reform that our democratic elections need.

Our bill, the Empowering Citizens Act, will incorporate and improve H.R. 414, reforming and strengthening the presidential public financing system. In addition, it will establish a voluntary small-donor public financing program for congressional campaigns. Finally, it will establish strong rules forbidding coordination among candidate-specific SuperPACs and political parties or campaigns, thereby lessening the outsize influence of special interests and outside spending groups in our elections.

I believe that we are at a tipping point in the short history of campaign finance reform--we can either choose to stand by the common-sense reforms that have restored America's faith in elections after the Watergate scandal, or we can choose to cede control of political campaigns entirely to wealthy corporations and interest groups. The responsible choice is clear. I strongly urge my colleagues to oppose this measure.


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