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TRANSCRIPT: Majority Leader Schumer Remarks At Senate Rules Committee On The Need To Pass The DISCLOSE Act

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke before the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration on the need to protect our democracy by passing the DISCLOSE Act. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks:

Why are we here today? Because across our democracy, the disease of dark money has spread unchecked like a cancer. Today, I am proud to join with my colleagues to support the DISCLOSE Act, which I have long championed and have I promised to bring to the floor for a vote.

In free and fair elections--one person, one vote--American voters alone should have the power to determine our nation’s leaders, without fear that their voices will be drowned out by powerful elites or special interests. Whether someone is rich or poor, young or old, well-connected or otherwise, none of that should have any bearing on their ability to affect the final outcome of the democratic process.

But we all know that today, that ideal is not reality in America. From the moment Chief Justice Roberts and the radical conservative majority on the Supreme Court handed down their opinion in Citizens United—which was one of the most awful decisions that we’ve ever had from the Court, twisting the First Amendment into an argument to help special interests and powerful moneyed interests, which it was never intended to be—from that moment, billions of dollars in dark money spending has poured into our elections. And Senate Republicans, particularly the Republican Senate Leader, have blocked practically every attempt to get rid of dark money at great cost to our democracy.

Over a decade later, trust in our democracy has eroded. Dark money groups have taken advantage of a megaphone that’s drowned out the voices of everyday Americans. And the problem is not just limited to our elections. Dark money has also corroded the judicial nomination process, as special interest groups spend tens of millions to push extremist judges onto the federal bench.

And the worst part? Much of this money is raised in secret.

The DISCLOSE Act operates off a simple premise: a healthy democracy is a transparent democracy, one where billionaires and mega-corporations don’t get a free pass to exploit loopholes in campaign finance law in order to spend billions in anonymous – underline anonymous – campaign contributions. That is the antithesis of democracy: someone having unequal power because they have huge amounts of money and no one even knowing what they’re doing.

This bill asserts, very plainly, that Americans deserve to know who is trying to influence our elections. It pays tribute to the words of Justice Louis Brandeis: “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.”

This shouldn’t be a Democratic or Republican view. It didn’t use to be early on. It should be bipartisan through and through, sadly it’s not. When was the last time any of us heard of voters cheering on dark money in our elections? Who here honestly thinks it’s better for billionaires and special interests to buy elections in secret, rather than face the healthy scrutiny of the American people?

Passing this bill has never been more important than it is today. As MAGA Republicans pass sweeping voter suppression laws, it is more urgent than ever to tilt the playing field back in favor of the American people and restore faith in the democratic process.

So, if you agree that the American people have a right to know who is trying to influence their elections, support the DISCLOSE Act.

If you agree that billions of dollars in anonymous campaign donations every year is not a function of a healthy democracy, support the DISCLOSE Act.

If you agree that America’s representatives should have only one boss—the people, and not special interests—then support the DISCLOSE Act.

Democracy cannot prosper without transparency. I strongly support passing this legislation so we can safeguard our electoral process and keep the dream of our founders alive in this century.