Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Passed House amended (11/25/1991)

House of Representatives Campaign Spending Limit and Election Reform Act of 1991 - Title I: Expenditure Limitations, Contribution Limitations, Matching Funds, and Reduced Third-Class Mail Rate for Eligible House of Representatives Candidates - Amends the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to set forth limitations regarding House of Representatives election expenditures, contributions, and matching funds.

Limits aggregate contributions received and expenditures made by an eligible House of Representatives candidate in an election cycle to $600,000 with specified additional limitations in general, special, and runoff elections. Exempts from such expenditure limitations certain costs and taxes, including: (1) fundraising costs that do not exceed five percent of the limitations; and (2) five percent of the candidate's campaign office salaries and overhead expenses. Exempts from such contribution limitations an eligible candidate if any other candidate: (1) is not eligible under such Act; and (2) receives contributions or makes expenditures exceeding 50 percent of the general election limitation. Entitles to triple matching funds any eligible candidate whose opponent makes contributions to his or her own campaign exceeding the same general election limitation.

Establishes the Make Democracy Work Fund (the Fund) for payment of funds and initial expenditures incurred by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in the administration of this Act. Outlines FEC examination, audit, and repayment procedures to determine candidate compliance with this Act. Subjects FEC actions to judicial review. Directs the FEC to report to the House of Representatives regarding: (1) candidate expenditures made and balances remaining in the Fund after each election; and (2) a detailed explanation and justification of rules, regulations, and forms it has issued under this Act.

Precludes a House of Representatives candidate from receiving funds from the Make Democracy Work Fund without prior certification that any television commercial was prepared or distributed by the candidate in a manner that readily permits closed captioning of the commercial's oral content by way of specified broadcast technology.

Treats the preceding provisions, as well as the limitations on political committee and large donor contributions established by Title II, invalid if any part of such provisions is held invalid.

Amends Federal Postal Service law to provide reduced third-class mailing rates to eligible House of Representatives candidates during a general election period.

Title II: Limitations on Political Committee and Large Donor Contributions That May Be Accepted By House of Representatives Candidates; Miscellaneous Provisions Relating To Contributions Under The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 - Sets forth limitations on political committee and large donor contributions (and contributions by dependents not of voting age) that may be accepted by House of Representatives candidates. Mandates that contributions to candidates from State and local political party committees be aggregated. Increases the amount that multicandidate political committees may contribute to national political party committees.

Deems corporate or labor union expenditures for candidate appearances, debates, or voter guides to be contributions if the corporate or labor organization expressly advocates the election or defeat of a candidate or favors one candidate over another.

Title III: Requirement of Budget Neutrality - Provides that the net costs of providing certain benefits under this Act must be fully offset by January 1, 1993 to achieve budget neutrality. Requires, as a condition for other specified provisions of this Act to become effective, the enactment of legislation: (1) creating incentives for individuals to make voluntary contributions to the candidate of their choice; and (2) for individuals or organizations to make voluntary contributions to the Make Democracy Work Fund.

Title IV: Independent Expenditures - Modifies definitions relating to independent expenditures. Sets forth reporting requirements for certain independent expenditures.

Title V: Bundling and Soft Money - Prohibits any person from acting as conduit or intermediary for any contribution to any candidate, except in specified circumstances. States that such persons are likewise prohibited from conducting or participating in joint fundraising activities with or on behalf of any candidate.

Sets forth limitations upon the combined political activities of political committees of political parties. Prohibits incumbents and candidates for Federal office from soliciting contributions to certain organizations substantially engaged in voter registration or get-out-the-vote campaigns. Mandates that political committees established and maintained by a national political party report all receipts and disbursements during the reporting period, whether or not in connection with an election for Federal office.

Title VI: Prohibitions Relating to Political Committees and Foreign Nationals - Prohibits a candidate for Federal office from establishing, maintaining, or controlling any political committee other than a principal campaign committee, or certain authorized committees (thereby prohibiting the use of leadership committees).

Allows such leadership committees to continue making contributions until one year after January 1, 1993, after which time all funds must be disbursed in one or more specified manners.

Prohibits an unauthorized political committee from using the name of any candidate in any fundraising activity on its behalf in a context which suggests that the committee is the candidate's authorized committee.

Prohibits a foreign national from controlling, influencing, or participating in election-related activities, including making contributions or expenditures relating to any political election or the administration of a political committee.

Title VII: Campaign Surplus - Mandates that funds exceeding $600,000 of incumbents who are House of Representatives candidates be deposited in a separate account subject to the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971.

Title VIII: Campaign Advertising - Prescribes guidelines for campaign advertising related to: (1) printed communication; and (2) broadcast or cablecast communication.

Amends the Communications Act of 1934 to entitle House of Representatives candidates to the lowest unit rate charged by a licensee for the same amount of time (currently, the same class and amount of time) for the same period on the same date, during the 30 (currently 45) days prior to the primary election and the 45 (currently 60) days prior to the general election. Prohibits the licensee from preempting a candidate's use of the station except in an emergency.

Title IX: Contribution Solicitation - Proscribes the solicitation of contributions by false representation by any person as a candidate or as a representative of a candidate or of a political party or committee.

Title X: Reporting Requirements - Requires certain reports to identify any person (other than a committee) who contributes more than $50 (currently, more than $200). Directs the FEC to: (1) require with respect to specified reports that operating expenditures be reported on an election cycle basis, by category, as specified by the FEC; and (2) maintain computerized indices of contributions of $50 or more.

Title XI: Ballot Initiative Committees - Defines a ballot initiative political committee as a group of persons organized for the purpose of influencing the outcome of any ballot initiative voted on at the State, commonwealth, territory, or District of Columbia level which involves specified Federal issues, including elections to Federal office. Makes the political committees' organizational and reporting requirements (and attendant civil penalties) applicable to ballot initiative committees. Limits ballot initiative contributions of currency to an aggregate of $100 per person.

Title XII: Prohibition of the Use of Government Aircraft in Connection With Elections for Federal Office - Proscribes the use of any civil or military aircraft owned or operated by the Federal Government in connection with any election to Federal office.

Title XIII: Sense of the Congress - Declares that the Congress should consider legislation which would provide for an amendment to the Constitution to set reasonable limits on campaign expenditures in Federal elections.

Title XIV: Effective Date - Sets forth the effective date of this Act.