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Inside the Beltway

Washington politics and government with a New Mexico flavor

Senate to take up Udall campaign finance amendment

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The U.S. Senate will vote this year on Sen. Tom Udall’s proposed constitutional amendment that would give states and Congress more power to regulate campaign finance laws, according to a top Senate Democrat.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Wednesday that the Senate will take up the proposal in part as a response to the April 2 Supreme Court ruling that abolished limits on the amount individuals can contribute to federal candidates and party committees in a two-year election cycle. Udall’s amendment would give Congress power to regulate federal election spending, as well as political action committees generally, and allow states to establish their own state-level campaign finance rules.

“The First Amendment is sacred, but the First Amendment is not absolute,” Schumer said at a Senate Rules Committee hearing, according to Reuters news service.”By making it absolute, you make it less sacred to most Americans. We have to bring some balance to our political system,”

The measure is not expected to clear the narrowly divided Senate because it would take 67 “yes” votes to win passage and there is widespread Republican opposition to Udall’s proposal. But forcing a vote would put senators on-the-record about their stance on the amendment in advance of the November elections.

“It’s clearer than ever that we need a constitutional amendment to restore integrity in our election system,” Udall said in a statement Wednesday. “Our government should be of, by and for the people – not bought and paid for by secret donors and special interests. I’m looking forward to working with Sen. Schumer to bring common-sense campaign finance reform to a vote as soon as possible so we can ensure our elections are about the quality of ideas and not the quantity of cash.”

Udall’s amendment has 36 cosponsors.

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