Summary: S.46 — 104th Congress (1995-1996)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for S.46. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in Senate (01/04/1995)

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Title I: Control of Congressional Campaign Spending

Title II: Independent Expenditures

Title III: Expenditures

Title IV: Contributions

Title V: Reporting Requirements

Title VI: Federal Elections Commission

Title VII: Miscellaneous

Title VIII: Effective Dates; Authorizations

Senate Campaign Financing and Spending Reform Act - Makes findings and declarations of the Senate.

Title I: Control of Congressional Campaign Spending - Subtitle A: Senate Election Campaign Spending Limits and Benefits - Amends the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECA) to make Senate candidates eligible to receive benefits under this title if they meet certain contribution (including multicandidate political committee (PAC) contribution) and expenditure limits.

Limits Senate primary expenditures for a candidate (or his or her authorized committees) to: (1) 67 percent of the general election expenditure limit; or (2) $2.75 million. Limits runoff expenditures.

Sets a threshold contribution amount which triggers application of such primary and runoff limits.

Limits the use by a Senate candidate (or authorized committees), during an entire election cycle, of the candidate's personal (or family) funds (including debt).

Limits aggregate general election expenditures by an eligible Senate candidate (or authorized committees) to the lesser of: (1) $5.5 million; or (2) the greater of $950,000, or $400,000 plus 30 cents times the voting age population up to 4 million and 25 cents times the voting age population over 4 million.

Exempts from the general election expenditure limit qualified tax expenditures.

Entitles eligible Senate candidates to certain broadcast media rates, mailing rates, public financing payments, and in certain circumstances, payments compensating for independent expenditures and excess expenditures (if any) on behalf of the candidate's opponent.

Requires the Federal Election Commission (Commission) to certify an eligible Senate candidate within 48 hours after his or her application to the Secretary of the Senate.

Requires the Commission to examine and audit, for FECA compliance, the campaign accounts of ten percent of all Senate candidates, and the campaign accounts of all opponents of such candidates as well. Requires candidates to refund to the Commission any excess payments or expenditures. Sets civil penalties for excess expenditures and contributions. Requires deposit of all such amounts into the Senate Election Campaign Fund (established by this Act).

Provides for judicial review of Commission actions and requires Commission reports to the Senate.

Establishes in the Treasury the Senate Election Campaign Fund, for payments to eligible Senate candidates. Provides for reductions in payments in the event of insufficient funds, and compensatory increases in contribution limits.

Amends the Internal Revenue Code to permit a taxpayer to designate an additional amount of five dollars (ten for a joint return) for the Senate Election Campaign Fund.

Amends FECA to prohibit Federal election activities by PACs.

Reduces from $5,000 to $1,000 the maximum aggregate contributions of any PAC to a Senate candidate (or authorized committees). Makes it unlawful for aggregate PACs to contribute to any Senate candidate (or authorized committees) more than the lesser of: (1) $825,000; or (2) 20 percent of the aggregate Federal election spending limit. Requires annual adjustments of such dollar amounts according to a specified price index.

(Sec. 103) Sets forth reporting requirements for Senate candidates not eligible for FECA benefits. Requires reports to the Secretary within 24 hours of any contributions raised and expenditures made in excess of FECA limits. Allows the Commission to make its own determination of whether an ineligible candidate exceeds FECA limits.

Requires any candidate for the Senate who, during the election cycle, exceeds limits on the use of personal and immediate family funds, and on personal loans incurred by the candidate and the candidate's immediate family, to report to the Secretary of the Senate within 24 hours after such expenditures have been made or loans incurred.

Requires certain expenditure reports from any Senate candidate who held Federal, State, or local office during the same election cycle, and made any expenditures, before becoming a Senate candidate, which would have been treated as Senate candidate expenditures.

Requires Senate candidates ineligible for FECA benefits to place on every paid or authorized political commercial or communication the declaration: "This candidate has not agreed to voluntary campaign spending limits."

Subtitle B: General Provisions - Amends the Communications Act of 1934 to require a broadcast station to make broadcast time available to all House and Senate candidates in the last 30 (currently 45) days before a primary and the last 45 (currently 60) days before a general election, at the lowest unit charge of the station for the same amount of time (currently, the same class and amount of time) for the same period on the same date. Allows Senate candidates to purchase broadcast time at 50 percent of the lowest unit rate for the 45 days before a general election.

Prohibits broadcasters from preempting advertisements sold to political candidates at the lowest unit rate, unless the preemption is beyond the broadcaster's control.

(Sec. 132) Amends Federal law to permit eligible Senate candidates to mail up to one piece per eligible voter (voting age population) at the lowest third-class non-profit postage rate, during a general election period only.

(Sec. 134) Requires a clear statement of responsibility in advertisements with: (1) a clearly readable type and color contrasts for print advertisements; (2) clearly readable type, color contrasts, the candidate's image, and for a duration of at least four seconds, for television advertisements; (3) a clearly spoken message by the candidate for both television and radio advertisements; and (4) a clearly spoken message of content responsibility.

(Sec. 136) Amends Federal law to prohibit a Senator who is a candidate for election to any public office from making a mass mailing under the frank during the calendar year of any primary or general election for such office. Restricts mass mailings of a Member of the House to the Member's district.

Title II: Independent Expenditures - Amends FECA to define "independent expenditure" as an expenditure for an advertisement or other communication that: (1) contains express advocacy; and (2) is made without the participation or cooperation of a candidate or a candidate's representative. Excludes from the meaning of "independent expenditure" any expenditure by: (1) a political committee of a political party; (2) persons who communicate or receive information about activities that have a purpose of influencing a candidate's election; and (3) persons with other specified relationships with a candidate or candidate's agents in the same election cycle.

Defines "express advocacy" as any communication that when taken as a whole: (1) expresses support for or opposition to a specific candidate, a specific group of candidates, or candidates of a particular political party; or (2) suggests taking action with respect to an election, such as voting for or against, contributing to, or participating in campaign activity.

Title III: Expenditures - Subtitle A: Personal Loans; Credit - Amends FECA to prohibit the use of contributions after the date of a general election to repay loans to a candidate (or authorized committee) by the candidate himself or herself or by members of the candidate's family.

(Sec. 302) Treats as a contribution any extension of credit of more than $1,000 for more than 60 days to candidates for Federal office (or authorized committees) by vendors of advertising and mass mailing services.

Subtitle B: Provisions Relating to Soft Money of Political Parties - Amends FECA to require the national committee of a political party and any congressional campaign committee (and any subordinate committee) to report all receipts and expenditures during the reporting period whether or not in connection with an election for Federal office. Includes in such requirement: (1) itemization of annual receipts or expenditures by any person in excess of $200; and (2) reporting of exempt contributions.

Title IV: Contributions - Specifies circumstances in which contributions made or arranged to be made directly or indirectly by a person to or on behalf of a particular candidate through an intermediary or conduit shall be treated as contributions from such intermediary or conduit to the candidate (thus subjecting them to the FECA limitations otherwise applicable to that intermediary or conduit).

(Sec. 402) Treats contributions by a dependent not of voting age as having been made by the individual on whom that dependent is a dependent.

(Sec. 403) Prohibits a candidate for Federal office from accepting, with respect to any election, any contribution from a State or local political party committee (or subordinate committee) if such contribution, when added to the total of contributions previously accepted from all such committees of that political party, exceeds the relevant contribution limitation.

(Sec. 404) Excludes from the meaning of "contribution" any campaign expense voluntarily paid for by a campaign worker as an advance to the campaign, provided the amount does not exceed $500 and is reimbursed by the committee within ten days.

Title V: Reporting Requirements - Requires all Federal candidates and authorized committees to aggregate information on their financial activity reports on an election cycle basis (instead of a calendar year basis, as at present).

(Sec. 502) Requires candidates to report any expenditure in excess of the reporting threshold made to a person who provides services or materials for the candidate, whether the payment was made directly or indirectly under subcontract to another person providing personal or consulting services.

(Sec. 503) Reduces from $200 to $50 the threshold for reporting certain information by persons other than political committees.

(Sec. 504) Requires the Commission to maintain computerized indices of all contributions of at least $50 (currently $200).

Title VI: Federal Election Commission - Prohibits a political committee that is not an authorized committee from using a candidate's name in a way to suggest that the candidate has authorized such committee.

(Sec. 603) Provides for filling any vacancy in the office of general counsel, and revises the general counsel's rate of pay.

(Sec. 604) Revises the basis for an enforcement proceeding from "reason to believe that a person has committed or is about to commit a violation of FECA" to "facts have been alleged or ascertained that, if true, give reason to believe that a person may have committed, or may be about to commit" such a violation. Authorizes the Commission to initiate a civil action for a temporary restraining order or a temporary injunction at any time during an enforcement proceeding that it believes there is substantial likelihood a FECA violation is occurring or about to occur, and the need for expeditious action meets certain criteria.

(Sec. 606) Authorizes the Commission to conduct random audits of political committees.

(Sec. 607) Prohibits contribution solicitation by false representation as a candidate or a representative of a candidate, a political committee, or a political party.

(Sec. 608) Directs the Commission to promulgate rules to prohibit devices or arrangements which have the purpose or effect of undermining or evading provisions of FECA restricting the use of non-Federal money to affect Federal elections.

Title VII: Miscellaneous - Prohibits Federal candidates and officeholders from establishing, maintaining, or controlling any political committee (such as a "leadership committee") other than a principal campaign committee of the candidate, authorized committee, party committee, or other political committee designated as an authorized committee.

(Sec. 702) Requires that contributions of polling data to Federal candidates be valued at fair market value on the date of the poll's completion, depreciated at a specified rate.

(Sec. 703) Expresses the sense of the Senate that the Congress should consider adoption of a joint resolution proposing a constitutional amendment empowering the Congress and the States to set reasonable limits on campaign expenditures.

Title VIII: Effective Dates; Authorizations - Sets forth the general effective date of this Act.

(Sec. 803) Provides for direct, expedited appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court from any court rulings on the constitutionality of any provision of this Act or amendment made by it.