DISCLOSE ACT OF 2012--MOTION TO PROCEED--Continued; Congressional Record Vol. 158, No. 107
(Senate - July 17, 2012)

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[Pages S5057-S5066]
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           DISCLOSE ACT OF 2012--MOTION TO PROCEED--Continued

  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I believe Chairman Leahy will shortly 
be joining us to discuss the DISCLOSE Act.
  I ask unanimous consent that an op-ed piece authored by former 
Senator Warren Rudman and former Senator Chuck Hagel--two former 
Republican Senators who distinguished themselves in this body and have 
gotten together to write an article about the DISCLOSE Act--be printed 
in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                [From the New York Times, July 16, 2012]

               For Political Closure, We Need Disclosure

                   (By Warren Rudman and Chuck Hagel)

       Since the beginning of the current election cycle, 
     extremely wealthy individuals, corporations and trade 
     unions--all of them determined to influence who is in the 
     White House next year--have spent more than $160 million 
     (excluding party expenditures). That's an incredible amount 
     of money.
       To put it in perspective, at this point in 2008, about $36 
     million had been spent on independent expenditures 
     (independent meaning independent of a candidate's campaign). 
     In all of 2008, in fact, only $156 million was spent this 
     way. In other words, we've already surpassed 2008, and it's 
     July.
       In the near term, there's nothing we can do to reverse this 
     dramatic increase in independent expenditures.
       Yet what really alarms us about this situation is that we 
     can't find out who is behind these blatant attempts to 
     control the outcome of our elections. We are inundated with 
     extraordinarily negative advertising on television every 
     evening and have no way to know who is paying for it and what 
     their agenda might be. In fact, it's conceivable that we have 
     created such a glaring loophole in our election process that 
     foreign interests could directly influence the outcome of our 
     elections. And we might not even know it had happened until 
     after the election, if at all.
       This is because unions, corporations, ``super PACs'' and 
     other organizations are able to make unlimited independent 
     expenditures on our elections without readily and openly 
     disclosing where the money they are spending is coming from. 
     As a result, we are unable to get the information we need to 
     decide who should represent us and take on our country's 
     challenges.
       Unlike the unlimited amount of campaign spending, the lack 
     of transparency in campaign spending is something we can fix 
     and fix right now--without opening the door to more scrutiny 
     by the Supreme Court.
       A bill being debated this week in the Senate, called the 
     Disclose Act of 2012, is a well-researched, well-conceived 
     solution to this insufferable situation. Unfortunately, on 
     Monday, the Senate voted, mostly along party lines, to block 
     the bill from going forward. But the Disclose Act is not 
     dead. As of now, it is 9 short of the 60 votes it needs.
       The bill was introduced by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, 
     Democrat of Rhode Island, who deserves tremendous credit for 
     crafting such comprehensive legislation, listening to his 
     critics and amending his bill to address their concerns in a 
     bold display of compromise. At its core, Whitehouse's bill 
     would require any ``covered organization'' which spends 
     $10,000 or more on a ``campaign-related disbursement'' to 
     file a disclosure report with the Federal Election Commission 
     within 24 hours of the expenditure, and to file a new report 
     for each additional $10,000 or more that is spent. The F.E.C. 
     must post the report on its Web site within 24 hours of 
     receiving it.
       A ``covered organization'' includes any corporation, labor 
     organization, section 501(c) organization, super PAC or 
     section 527 organization.
       This is a huge improvement over the status quo, where super 
     PACS currently have months to disclose their donors (often 
     withholding this information until after an election) and 
     501(c) organizations have no requirement to disclose their 
     donors at all.
       The report must include the name of the covered 
     organization, the name of the candidate, the election to 
     which the spending pertains, the amount of each disbursement 
     of

[[Page S5058]]

     more than $1,000, and a certification by the head of the 
     organization that the disbursement was not coordinated. The 
     report must also reveal the identity of all donors who have 
     given more than $10,000 to the organization.
       We have no doubt that the Disclose Act will be spared any 
     credible constitutional challenges if it were to pass the 
     Senate and the House. In its Citizens United decision, the 
     Supreme Court, by an 8-1 majority, upheld the provisions of 
     federal law that require outside spending groups to disclose 
     their expenditures on electioneering communications, 
     including the donors financing those expenditures. Justice 
     Anthony Kennedy, writing for the Court, noted that these 
     provisions ``impose no ceiling on campaign-related 
     activities'' and ``do not prevent anyone from speaking.''
       We believe that every senator should embrace the Disclose 
     Act of 2012. This legislation treats trade unions and 
     corporations equally and gives neither party an advantage. It 
     is good for Republicans and it is good for Democrats. Most 
     important, it is good for the American people.
       What's more, every senator considering re-election faces 
     the possibility of being blindsided by a well-funded, 
     anonymous campaign challenging his or her record, integrity 
     or both. The act under consideration would prevent this from 
     happening to anyone running for Congress.
       Without the transparency offered by the Disclose Act of 
     2012, we fear long-term consequences that will hurt our 
     democracy profoundly. We're already seeing too many of our 
     former colleagues leaving public office because the 
     partisanship has become stifling and toxic. If campaigning 
     for office continues to be so heavily affected by anonymous 
     out-of-district influences running negative advertising, we 
     fear even more incumbents will decline to run and many of our 
     most capable potential leaders will shy away from elective 
     office.
       No thinking person can deny that the current situation is 
     unacceptable and intolerable. We urge all senators to engage 
     in a bipartisan effort to enact this critically needed 
     legislation. The Disclose Act of 2012 is a prudent and 
     important first step in restoring some sanity to our 
     democratic process.

  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. I think what I would like to do is actually share 
some of the thoughts from it.
  Here is what Senator Rudman and Senator Hagel, two former Republican 
Senators, say:

       Since the beginning of the current election cycle, 
     extremely wealthy individuals, corporations and trade 
     unions--all of them determined to influence who is in the 
     White House next year--have spent more than $160 million.
       Excluding party expenditures.
       That's an incredible amount of money.
       To put it in perspective, at this point in 2008, about $36 
     million had been spent on independent expenditures.
       Independent meaning independent of a candidate's campaign.
       In all of 2008, in fact, only $156 million was spent this 
     way. In other words, we've already surpassed 2008, and it's 
     July.
       In the near term, there's nothing we can do to reverse this 
     dramatic increase in independent expenditures.

  These two distinguished former Republican Senators wrote:

       Yet what really alarms us about this situation is that we 
     can't find out who was behind these blatant attempts to 
     control the outcome of our elections. We are inundated with 
     extraordinarily negative advertising on television every 
     evening and have no way to know who is paying for it and what 
     their agenda might be. In fact, it's conceivable that we have 
     created such a glaring loophole in our election process that 
     foreign interests could directly influence the outcome of our 
     elections and we might not even know it had happened until 
     after the election, if at all.
       This is because unions, corporations, ``super PACs'' and 
     other organizations are able to make unlimited independent 
     expenditures on our elections without readily and openly 
     disclosing where the money they are spending is coming from. 
     As a result, we are unable to get the information we need to 
     decide who should represent us and take on our country's 
     challenges.

  Unlike the unlimited amount of campaign spending, the lack of 
transparency in campaign spending is something we can fix and fix right 
now--without opening the door to more scrutiny by the Supreme Court.
  A bill being debated this week in the Senate called the DISCLOSE Act 
of 2012 is a well-researched, well-conceived solution to this 
insufferable situation. Unfortunately, on Monday the Senate voted, 
mostly along party lines, to block the bill from going forward. But the 
DISCLOSE Act is not dead. As of now, it is 9 short of the 60 votes it 
needs.
  They then describe the bill and continue:

       We believe that every senator should embrace the DISCLOSE 
     Act of 2012. This legislation treats trade unions and 
     corporations equally and gives neither party an advantage. It 
     is good for Republicans and it is good for Democrats. Most 
     important, it is good for the American people.
       What's more, every Senator considering re-election faces 
     the possibility of being blindsided by a well-funded, 
     anonymous campaign, challenging his or her record, integrity, 
     or both. The act under consideration would prevent this from 
     happening to anyone running for Congress.
       Without the transparency offered by the DISCLOSE Act of 
     2012, we fear long-term consequences that will hurt our 
     democracy profoundly. We are already seeing too many of our 
     former colleagues leaving public office because the 
     partisanship has become stifling and toxic. If campaigning 
     for office continues to be so heavily affected by anonymous, 
     out-of-district influences running negative advertising, we 
     fear even more incumbents will decline to run and many of our 
     most capable potential leaders will shy away from elective 
     office.
       No thinking person can deny that the current situation is 
     unacceptable and intolerable. We urge all senators to engage 
     in a bipartisan effort to enact this critically needed 
     legislation. The DISCLOSE Act of 2012 is a prudent and 
     important first step in restoring some sanity to our 
     Democratic process.

  Then the article closes by identifying the authors: Former Senator 
Warren Rudman, Republican of New Hampshire, is a chairman of Americans 
for Campaign Reform, and former Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican of 
Nebraska, introduced disclosure legislation in 2001.
  While we await my colleagues who are scheduled to come to the floor, 
let me add that it is not unique or unusual that Senators Rudman and 
Hagel, former Republican Senators, should be supportive of the DISCLOSE 
Act and of disclosure of who is making these massive, now secret, 
contributions to buy influence in our elections. First of all, it is 
not surprising because it is so darned obvious. It should be obvious to 
any thinking person, as Senators Rudman and Hagel said, that when 
somebody is spending the kind of money that is being spent--a single 
donor making, for instance, a $4 million anonymous contribution--they 
are not doing that out of the goodness of their heart. They are not 
doing that just for the sheer fun of it. They are doing that because 
they have a motive. One doesn't spend $4 million in politics if one 
doesn't have a motive. If one thinks otherwise, one really needs to 
wake up and have a cup of coffee.
  If we add to that the insistence on the funding being secret, there 
is only one reasonable conclusion that a thinking person can draw about 
why somebody who is spending that kind of money with a motive would 
want their spending and their identity to be secret, and that is 
because the motive is a crummy motive. It is a lousy motive for the 
American people. If the American people were excited about the motive, 
they wouldn't want to keep it secret. It is only because they want to 
do bad deeds in the dark.
  When time permits again, I will go through some of the Republican 
Senators who have spoken out in favor of disclosure and transparency in 
the past. We all know from the debate last night that the minority 
leader has--and I will yield to the chairman of the Judiciary Committee 
as soon as he is prepared--Senator Alexander has been on record, as 
well as Senator Chambliss, Senator Sessions, Senator Cornyn, Senator 
Murkowski, Senator Collins, Senator Brown of Massachusetts, Senator 
Coburn, and, of course, most prominently and most courageously over a 
long period of time and with great distinction, Senator John McCain.
  So at this moment, I will yield to my distinguished chairman and 
friend, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee. I appreciate him 
giving his voice to this debate.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Vermont.
  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I appreciate what the Senator from Rhode 
Island has done. He has been a champion on this not only in the public 
forum on this floor of the Senate, but he has been a champion in the 
cloakrooms, in the committee rooms; everywhere we have been speaking 
about it, he has been most consistent. The people of Rhode Island are 
very fortunate to have somebody with such a strong voice.
  For the last two and a half years, the American people have seen the 
devastating effects of the Citizens United decision. That decision by 
five Supreme Court Justices overturned a century of laws--a century of 
laws that have been supported by Republicans and Democrats alike--
designed to protect our elections from corporate

[[Page S5059]]

spending. And what these five men did is they unleashed a massive flood 
of corporate money into our elections.
  Now, many of us in the Congress and around the country were worried 
at the time of the Citizens United decision that it turned on its head 
the idea of government of, by, and for the people. We worried that the 
decision created new rights for Wall Street at the expense of people on 
Main Street. We worried that powerful corporate megaphones could drown 
out the voices and interests of individual Americans. I wish I didn't 
have to say this, but two and a half years later, it is clear these 
worries were supremely valid, and the damage is devastatingly real.
  Since the Citizens United decision struck down longstanding 
prohibitions on corporations from direct spending in political 
campaigns, hundreds of millions of dollars from undisclosed and 
unaccountable sources have flooded the airwaves with a barrage of 
negative advertisements. Nobody who has watched our elections or even 
tried to watch television since the Citizens United decision can deny 
the enormous impact that decision has had on our political process. 
Everywhere I go in Vermont, people say: Who is behind these ads? Many 
of them find them offensive in Vermont.
  They say: Who is behind these ads?
  I say: I don't know.
  They say: Well, you are a U.S. Senator. What do you mean you don't 
know?
  I say: Because the Supreme Court has allowed people to hide who is 
paying for them, even though they are doing it to advance their 
economic interests, often to the exclusion of everybody else's; even 
though they are wanting to give themselves an advantage that all the 
rest of the people won't have.
  Nobody who has strained to hear the voices of the voters lost among 
the flood of noise from super PACs can deny that by extending first 
amendment rights in the political process to corporations, the Supreme 
Court put at risk the rights of individual Americans to speak to each 
other and, crucially, to be heard. Yet, just last month, without a 
hearing--without even allowing Americans' voices to be heard--the same 
five Justices who in Citizens United ran roughshod over longstanding 
precedent to strike down key provisions of our bipartisan campaign 
finance laws doubled down on Citizens United when they summarily struck 
down a 100-year-old Montana State law barring corporate contributions 
to political campaigns--a State law that had been enacted by the people 
of Montana because they had seen the pervasive and sometimes evil 
effects of these corporate contributions. In doing so, they broke down 
the last public safeguards preventing corporate megaphones from 
drowning out the voices of hard-working Americans.
  There is no doubt about it. In our State of Vermont, we have a town 
meeting day. People come in. They can express any view they want, but 
you know who is expressing it. You know whether it is John Jones or 
Mary Smith. You know if it is the head of a local company or somebody 
speaking for a workers union. You know who is speaking, and you know 
that you have just as much right and ability to answer as they did in 
speaking. Now we are saying: No, no; unless you are a wealthy 
corporation willing to hide who is speaking, you are not going to be 
heard.
  The Supreme Court decisions not only go against longstanding laws and 
legal precedence but also common sense. Contrary to at least what one 
candidate has said, corporations are not people. Corporations are not 
the same as individual Americans. Corporations do not have the same 
rights, the same morals, or the same interests. Corporations cannot 
vote in our democracy. We could elect General Eisenhower as President, 
but General Electric and General Motors cannot serve as the President. 
But if you go to the logic of these Supreme Court decisions, it 
virtually says: Let's elect General Electric or General Motors as 
President. The fact is, these are artificial legal constructs meant to 
facilitate business. The Founders understood this. The Founders knew we 
were not going to allow corporations either to vote or to take over our 
electoral process. Vermonters and Americans across this great country 
have long understood this. Apparently five members of the Supreme Court 
did not understand this.
  Like most Vermonters, Republicans and Democrats alike, I strongly 
believe something must be done to address the divisive and corrosive 
decision of the Supreme Court in Citizens United. That decision was 
wrong, the damage must be repaired, and the harmful ways it is skewing 
the democratic process must be fixed. That is why I held the first 
congressional hearing on that terrible decision in the weeks after it 
was issued. That is why we have scheduled a hearing next week in the 
Senate Judiciary Committee's constitution subcommittee, led by the 
distinguished Senator from Illinois, Mr. Durbin, to look at proposals 
for constitutional amendments to address Citizens United.
  But today, without waiting the years and years and years that a 
constitutional amendment might take, the Senate can take action. By 
passing the DISCLOSE Act, we can restore transparency and 
accountability to campaign finance laws by ensuring that all Americans 
know who is paying for campaign ads. It is a crucial step toward 
restoring the ability of Vermonters and all American voters to be able 
to speak, be heard and to hear competing voices, and not be drowned out 
by powerful corporate interests. For any of us who are in an election, 
we expect our opponent to be able to speak out, and the public expects 
it. They want to hear from both of us. And they should. That is why we 
have debates. That is why we have candidate forums. But it all becomes 
irrelevant if you have a huge megaphone, paid for by anonymous donors, 
anonymous corporations.
  When I cosponsored the first DISCLOSE Act after the Supreme Court's 
decision in 2010, I hoped Republicans would join with Democrats to 
mitigate the impact of the Citizens United decision. From the depths of 
the Watergate scandal forward, until only recently, the principle of 
disclosure was a bipartisan value. A clear-cut reform such as the 
DISCLOSE Act would have easily drawn bipartisan support in those days 
after Watergate. I hoped that Senate Republicans, like my friend from 
Arizona, Senator John McCain, who once championed the bipartisan 
McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, which I supported, would join 
with us to help ensure that corporations could not abuse their newfound 
constitutional rights. Regrettably, every single Republican joined to 
successfully filibuster the DISCLOSE Act in 2010, and despite a 
majority in the House and a majority in the Senate and the American 
people voting and being in favor of passing this disclosure law, it 
fell one vote short from breaking a Republican filibuster in the 
Senate--one vote, but not a single Republican would stand and help us 
restore some of the core disclosure aspects of McCain-Feingold.
  Senate Republicans are continuing their filibuster of this 
commonsense legislation. By filibustering it, they deny the American 
people an open, public, and meaningful debate on the importance of 
transparency and accountability in our elections. Last night they again 
filibustered this bill even though a majority in this Senate voted in 
favor of it. In fact, they refused to even proceed to debate on the 
bill in the Senate.
  Despite the clear impact of waves of unaccountable corporate campaign 
spending that has led Senator McCain to now concede that super PACs are 
``disgraceful,'' a minority in the Senate, consisting exclusively of 
Republicans, continue to prevent passage of this important law. Why are 
they against this bill? Why, when so many Senators of both parties used 
to champion disclosure laws and Senators of both parties used to 
support knowing who is paying for campaign ads, do they continue to 
prevent us from having a debate? Why, when the Supreme Court made clear 
even in the Citizens United decision that disclosure laws are 
constitutional, does the Senate Republican leadership insist on 
stalling the reform?
  What happened to those Americans who said that our elections should 
be open? What happened to those Americans who said we ought to know who 
is involved in these elections? There should be only one thing secret 
in our elections: your secret vote, your right to vote in secret--one 
person, one vote. But nothing should say that there

[[Page S5060]]

should be a powerful, hidden, secret hand overwhelming the voters of 
America in telling them how they should vote.
  We know disclosure laws can work because they do work for individual 
Americans donating directly to political campaigns. Mr. President, when 
you or I give money directly to a political candidate, our donation is 
not hidden. It is publicly disclosed. And that candidate--people can 
look at who has supported him or her, and that goes into their thoughts 
as to whether they will vote for them. Yet those who oppose the 
DISCLOSE Act are standing up for special rights for corporations and 
wealthy donors--rights, Mr. President, you and I do not have.
  We have seen since Citizens United that the line the Supreme Court 
imagined existed between individual campaigns and the super PACs is an 
all but meaningless one, as super PACs have poured more and more money 
into influencing election campaigns. In reality, super PACs have simply 
become a way to funnel secret, massive, nondisclosed donations to 
political campaigns. The Citizens United decision has allowed 
corporations and large donors to evade the disclosure laws that apply 
to you and me by giving money to groups that then fund super PACs, as a 
way of laundering the money and keeping secret the real funders of 
these campaign ads.
  If the average Vermonter wants to contribute to my campaign or my 
opponent's campaign, that is going to be public. People are going to 
know, and they will make their decisions. Part of their decision will 
be based on who supports us. But when you have a secret--a secret--
wealthy entity supporting you, nobody knows who it is. And none of 
these entities use their real names. They are always for good 
government, for clean air, for motherhood and apple pie, for the sun 
rising in the east and setting in the west. There is no reason those 
funding these super PACs should not be bound by the same disclosure 
rules for giving directly to campaigns. Public disclosure of donations 
to candidates has never chilled campaign funding, and it has never 
prevented millions of Americans from participating openly. I follow a 
rule of releasing every single donor to my campaign, and I think we had 
one for 85 cents once that got disclosed.
  We have seen some on the other side of this debate disgracefully 
compare the attempt we are making--to ensure that the same disclosure 
laws that apply to you and me also apply to corporations--to the 
shameful effort in the 1950s and 1960s to keep African Americans from 
exercising their right to vote. There the chilling effect often took 
the form of violence. We all remember the bridge at Selma and the blood 
that was spilled in the long effort for voting rights that led to the 
Voting Rights Act. At a time when we are seeing a renewed effort to 
deny millions of Americans their right to vote through voter purges and 
voter ID laws that serve as modern-day poll taxes, the comparison some 
have made between our effort to bring sunlight and those evil days is 
as shameful as it is wrong.
  When the race is on for secret money and election campaigns are won 
or lost by who can collect the largest amount of secret donations, it 
puts at risk government of, by, and for the people. Now, our ballots 
should be secret but not massive corporate campaign contributions.
  I can tell you what I am fighting for. While too many Vermonters and 
other Americans are still looking for work, we need to continue looking 
for ways to spur job growth and economic investment in this country. We 
have to continue our efforts to increase jobs, reduce unemployment, and 
support hard-working American families struggling to keep food on the 
table and a roof over their heads. We have to protect Americans' access 
to clean air and clean water. We have to fight for their economic 
security by protecting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. We need 
to work together to move forward with reasonable policies to bolster 
economic growth and development and by ending the Bush tax cuts for the 
wealthiest Americans--the tax cuts we cannot afford that contributed to 
the financial crisis facing us today.
  That is what I am fighting for and I will keep on fighting for those 
things. What are the secret sources of funding for the super PACs 
fighting for? What do they expect to gain from hundreds of millions in 
campaign ads? And why are they hiding?
  Vermont is a small State. It would not take more than a tiny fraction 
of the corporate money flooding the airwaves in other States to 
outspend all of our local candidates combined. I know that the people 
of Vermont, like all Americans, take seriously their civic duty to 
choose wisely on election day. That is why more than 60 Vermont towns 
passed resolutions on Town Meeting Day calling for action to address 
Citizens United. Like all Vermonters, I cherish the voters' role in the 
democratic process and am a staunch believer in the first amendment. 
The rights of Vermonters and all Americans to speak to each other and 
to be heard should not be undercut by corporate spending.
  I hope that Republicans who have seen the impact of waves of 
unaccountable corporate campaign spending reconsider their filibuster 
of a debate on this important legislation. I hope Republican Senators 
will let us vote on the DISCLOSE Act and help us take an important step 
to ensure the ability of every American to be heard and to be able to 
meaningfully participate in free and fair elections.
  Mr. President, I yield to Senator Whitehouse.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I thank Chairman Leahy.
  I ask unanimous consent, in terms of scheduling floor time, that 
Senator Manchin of West Virginia be recognized now for up to 5 minutes; 
that Senator McCain, if he is on the floor, be recognized at the 
conclusion of Senator Manchin's 5-minute period; and if Senator McCain 
is not present on the floor, that I be recognized in his stead.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Leahy). Without objection, it is so 
ordered.
  The Senator from West Virginia.
  Mr. MANCHIN. Mr. President, I rise today to address the disturbing 
role that money is playing in our politics, especially when it comes to 
anonymous groups with deep pockets that are trying to tear people down. 
There is no question this is a corrosive situation and it is hurting 
our democracy.
  When you have unaccountable outside groups with virtually unlimited 
pockets, more and more lawmakers--all of us included--have to spend 
more time dialing for dollars that takes us away from legislating. That 
is simply backwards, sir. Elected officials should be working on fixing 
our problems, not having to worry every minute of every day about 
raising money so you can be protective or fend off people who are 
attacking you. And the effects are very clear: This Congress has 
stalled when it comes to tackling our biggest problems as a nation, but 
we are raising more money in politics than ever before.
  Those priorities in my State of West Virginia are totally out of 
order, and we need to do something to change the system. I am not alone 
with this concern. In private, I have talked to my fellow Senators on 
both sides, Democrats and Republicans, who basically say they are 
spending more time raising money for reelection and that constant 
fundraising events interfere with the everyday business of governing 
this great Nation in the time they are spending to do that.
  I try to spend time in my great State of West Virginia every weekend. 
I can tell you the people of West Virginia are also deeply troubled by 
the increasing role money is playing in our politics. Ever since the 
Supreme Court decision on the Citizens United campaign finance case, we 
have seen outside groups unleash an unprecedented flood of money to 
sway elections, and we have seen it time and again in West Virginia 
over the past several years.
  I was deeply troubled by some statistics about how few Americans are 
involved in financing elections. This is cited by Professor Lawrence 
Lessig, a campaign finance expert, in The Atlantic.
  Let me put this issue in perspective for our viewers and my 
colleagues. The population of this country is approximately 311 million 
people. We live in this great United States of America. A tiny number 
of those Americans--only 806,000 people out of the 311 million--give 
more than $200 to a congressional campaign. To break that down even 
further, only 155,000 out of the 311 million contribute the maximum 
amount to any congressional candidate.

[[Page S5061]]

  Then look at the people who participate in a number of elections who 
give more than $10,000 in an election cycle--the maximum they can give 
to a candidate and to other candidates--and of those people in the 
United States of America out of the 311 million, only 31,000 Americans 
do that.
  Let me break it down to even the super PACs--the money that comes 
from the super PACs. Just in this Presidential election so far, there 
are only 196 Americans out of 311 million--only 196 people--who have 
given hundreds of millions of dollars. They account for 80 percent of 
the funding so far. That is unheard of.
  First of all, let me thank Senator Whitehouse of Rhode Island. He has 
been truly a champion of common sense, bringing this together and 
bringing all sides together. Some of my friends would say spending 
money to influence an election is their first amendment right of 
freedom of speech. To my friends, I understand and respect their 
concerns. But I truly believe the DISCLOSE Act will not limit their 
freedom of speech. Instead, it will prevent the anonymous political 
campaigning that is undermining our democracy.
  The people of West Virginia believe we need openness and transparency 
to stay informed and keep our democracy strong, and the DISCLOSE Act 
would do that. The people of this country have a right to know who is 
spending large amounts of money to influence elections. This bill would 
make the information available.
  I ask unanimous consent for 2 more minutes.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Tester). Without objection, it is so 
ordered.
  Mr. MANCHIN. In fact, the measure is quite simple. Anytime an 
organization or individual spends $10,000 or more on a campaign-related 
expense--that is the issue that is very important, campaign-related 
expense--they have to file a disclosure report with the Federal 
Elections Commission within 24 hours. Every one of us who runs for 
office has to disclose every penny we get. It should be that way. Some 
States, such as our sister State of Virginia, already have a 
transparency and disclosure law, and it has not stifled free speech 
there, nor does this provision affect organizations' regular 
operations. The disclosure is only required when organizations and 
individuals spend money on campaigns or try to influence elections.
  Instead, this bill makes sure every person and organization plays 
fairly and by the same rules. Whether those organizations or 
individuals are in the middle, the left, the right, forward, backward 
or upside down, they have to play by the same rules.
  In fact, I truly believe this provision will take an important step 
forward to increase transparency and accountability. That seems only 
right and fair to me. I am proud to cast my vote in favor of the 
DISCLOSE Act.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arizona is recognized.
  Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, here we are with 41 months of over 8 
percent unemployment in America, and the national defense authorization 
bill is languishing in the shadows while we continue to have this 
debate and, obviously, there is no doubt in most people's minds that--
with the full knowledge of the sponsors of this legislation that it 
will not pass--it is obviously for certain political purposes.
  I oppose cloture on the motion. My reasons for opposing this motion 
are simple, even though the subject of campaign finance reform is not. 
In its current form, the DISCLOSE Act is closer to a clever attempt at 
political gamesmanship than actual reform.
  By conveniently setting high thresholds for reporting requirements, 
the DISCLOSE Act forces some entities to inform the public about the 
origins of their financial support, while allowing others--most notably 
those affiliated with organized labor--to fly below the Federal 
Election Commission's regulatory radar.
  My colleagues are aware that I have a long history of fighting for 
campaign finance reform and to break the influence of money in American 
politics. Regardless of what the U.S. Supreme Court may do or say, I 
continue to be proud of my record because I believe the cause to 
improve our democracy and further empower the citizens of our country 
was and continues to be worth fighting for.
  But let's be clear. Reforms that we have successfully enacted over 
the years have not cured all the public cynicism about the state of 
politics in our country. No legislative measure or Supreme Court 
decision will completely free politics from influence peddling or the 
appearance of it. But I do believe that fair and just reforms will move 
many Americans, who have grown more and more disaffected from the 
practices and institutions of our democracy, to begin to get a clearer 
understanding of whether their elected representatives value their 
commitment to our Constitution more than their own incumbency.
  For far too long, money and politics have been deeply intertwined. 
Anyone who has ever run for a Federal office will assure us of the fact 
that candidates come to Washington not seeking wisdom or ideas but 
because they need help raising money. The same candidates will most 
likely tell us they are asked one question when they announce they are 
going to seek office. Unfortunately, it is not how they feel about 
taxes or what is their opinion of the role of government. No, the 
question they are asked is: How are you going to raise the money? 
Couple that sad reality with the dawn of the super PAC spending from 
corporate treasuries and record spending by big labor and one can 
easily see a major scandal is not far off, and there will be a scandal, 
mark my words. The American people know it and I know it.
  Reform is necessary, but it must be fair and just and this 
legislation is not. I say that from many years of experience on this 
issue.
  A recent Wall Street Journal article by Tom McGinty and Brody 
Mullins, titled ``Political Spending by Unions Far Exceeds Direct 
Donations,'' noted that organized labor spent about four times as much 
on politics and lobbying as originally thought--$4.4 billion from 2005 
to 2011. According to the Wall Street Journal's analysis, unions are 
spending far more money on a wider range of political activities than 
what is reported to the Federal Election Commission. The report plainly 
states:

       This kind of spending, which is on the rise, has enabled 
     the largest unions to maintain and in some cases increase 
     their clout in Washington and state capitals, even though 
     unionized workers make up a declining share of the workforce. 
     The result is that labor could be a stronger counterweight 
     than commonly realized to ``super PACs'' that today raise 
     millions from wealthy donors, in many cases to support 
     Republican candidates and causes.
       The hours spent by union employees working on political 
     matters were equivalent in 2010 to a shadow army much larger 
     than President Obama's current re-election staff, data 
     analyzed by the Journal show.

  The report goes on to note:

       Another difference is that companies use their political 
     money differently than unions do, spending a far larger share 
     of it on lobbying, while not undertaking anything equivalent 
     to unions' drives to persuade members to vote as the 
     leadership dictates. Corporations and their employees also 
     tend to spread their donations fairly evenly between the two 
     major parties, unlike unions, which overwhelmingly assist 
     Democrats. In 2008, Democrats received 55 percent of the $2 
     billion contributed by corporate PACs and company employees, 
     while labor unions were responsible for $75 million in 
     political donations, with 92 percent of it going to 
     Democrats.
       The traditional measure of unions' political spending--
     reports filed by the FEC--undercounts the effort unions pour 
     into politics because the FEC reports are mostly based on 
     donations unions make to individual candidates from their 
     PACs, as well as spending on campaign advertisements.
       Unions spend millions of dollars yearly paying teams of 
     political hands to contact members, educating them about 
     election issues and trying to make sure they vote for union-
     endorsed candidates.
       Such activities are central to unions' political power: The 
     proportion of members who vote as the leadership prefers has 
     ranged from 68 percent to 74 percent over the past decades at 
     AFL-CIO-affiliated unions, according to statistics from the 
     labor federation.

  Additionally, a February 22, 2012, Washington Post article, titled 
``Union Spending for Obama, Democrats Could Top $400 million in 2012 
Election.'' AFSCME reportedly expects to spend $100 million ``on 
political action, including television advertising, phone banks and 
member canvassing, while the SEIU plans to spend at least $85 million 
in 2012.
  With that analysis, combined with the $1.1 billion the unions 
reported to

[[Page S5062]]

the FEC from 2005 to 2011, and the additional $3.3 billion unions 
reported to the Labor Department over the same period on political 
activity, the need for equal treatment of political advocacy under the 
law becomes readily apparent. I repeat, the need for equal treatment of 
political advocacy under the law becomes readily apparent.
  Given the strength and political muscle behind all these figures, it 
is easy to understand why disclosure may sound nice, but unless the 
treatment is completely fair, taking into account the diverse nature 
and purpose of different types of organizations, disclosure 
requirements will likely be used to give one side a political advantage 
over another. That is just one of the flaws of the bill before us 
today.
  The DISCLOSE Act would have little impact on unions because of the 
convenient thresholds for reporting. But it would have a huge effect on 
associations and other advocacy groups. From my own experience, I can 
state without question that real reform--and, in particular, campaign 
finance reform--will never be attained without equal treatment of both 
sides. A half dose of campaign finance reform will be quickly--and 
rightly--labeled as political favoritism and will undermine future 
opportunities for true progress. Furthermore, these sorts of games and 
measures will only make the American people more cynical and have less 
faith in what we do.
  The authors of this bill insist it is fair and not designed to 
benefit one party over the other. Sadly, the stated intent doesn't 
comport with the facts. The DISCLOSE Act is written to burden labor 
unions significantly less than the other groups. In the United States, 
there are roughly 14 million to 16 million union members, each of whom 
is required to pay dues to its local union chapter. Historically, these 
local union chapters send a portion of their revenues up to their 
affiliated larger ``international'' labor unions. And while each union 
member's dues may be modest, the amounts that ultimately flow up to the 
central political arms are vast. The DISCLOSE Act protects this flow of 
money in two distinct ways: No. 1, organizations that engage in 
political conduct are only required to disclose payments to it that 
exceed $10,000 in a 2-year election cycle, meaning the local union 
chapter will not be required to disclose the payments of individual 
union members to the union even if those funds will be used for 
political purposes.
  What is the final difference between one $10,000 check and 1,000 $10 
checks? Other than the impact on trees, very little. So why should one 
be free from having to disclose its origin?
  No. 2, the bill exempts from the disclosure requirements transfers 
from affiliates that do not exceed $50,000 for a 2-year election cycle. 
As a result, unions would not have to disclose the transfers made to it 
by many of its smaller local chapters. Given the contrast between union 
and corporate structures, this would allow unions to fall beneath the 
bill's threshold limits. For local union chapters, this anonymity is 
probably pretty important because, among other effects, it prevents 
union chapter members from learning how much of their dues payments are 
being used on political activities.
  While the exemptions outlined in the DISCLOSE Act may be facially 
applied to business organizations and associations, it is apparent to 
me the unions' unique pyramid-style, ground-up, money-funneling 
structure would allow unions to not be treated equally by the DISCLOSE 
Act. Unlike unions, most organizations do not have thousands of local 
affiliates where they can pull up to $50,000 in ``affiliate 
transfers.''
  I have been involved in the issue of campaign finance reform for most 
of my career. I am proud of my record. I am supportive of measures 
which call for full and complete disclosure of all spending in Federal 
campaigns. I reaffirmed this commitment by submitting an amicus brief 
to the U.S. Supreme Court regarding campaign finance reform along with 
the author of the DISCLOSE Act. This bill falls short. The American 
people see it for what it is: Political opportunism at its best, 
political demagoguery at its worst.
  My former colleague from Wisconsin, Senator Feingold, and I set out 
to eliminate the corrupting influence of soft money and to reform how 
our campaigns are paid for. We vowed to be truly bipartisan and to do 
nothing which would give one party a political advantage over the 
other. The fact is this gives one party an advantage over the other.
  I say with great respect to the Senator from Rhode Island, the way I 
began campaign finance reform is I found a person on the other side of 
the aisle who was willing to work with me, and we worked together on 
campaign finance reform. The Senator from Rhode Island and the sponsors 
of this bill have no one on this side of the aisle. By not having 
anyone on this side of the aisle, the Senator from Rhode Island has now 
embarked on a partisan enterprise.
  I suggest strongly to the sponsors of the bill--if they are serious 
about campaign finance reform and about curing the evils going on now--
they approach Members on this side of the aisle and make sure our 
concerns about the role of labor unions in this financing of political 
campaigns are addressed as well.
  It is too bad--it is too bad--that Members on that side of the aisle 
are now orchestrating a vote which is strictly partisan in nature when 
they know full well the only way true campaign finance reform will ever 
be enacted by the Congress is in a bipartisan fashion. This is a 
partisan bill, and I am disappointed we are wasting the time of the 
Senate on a bill--and on a cause that is of utmost importance, in my 
view--in a partisan fashion.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, before I yield the floor to Senator 
Sanders, I wanted to take 1 minute and thank Senator McCain for his 
many years of principled advocacy in this area. People have written 
entire books about the work he has done. I think it was Elizabeth Drew 
who wrote one of the best books about the courage Senator McCain has 
shown over the years. So I come to this debate with enormous respect 
for him.
  I will say the bill is not bipartisan, but that is not for lack of 
trying. We have reached out over and over again. In the face of an 
absolute stonewall on this subject, we have changed the bill ourselves 
in order to accommodate concerns. The stand-by-your-ad provision was 
criticized by the Republican witness in the Rules Committee, so we 
removed it. The National Rifle Association was livid about the $600 
threshold because it would require them to disclose their members, so 
we raised it to $10,000. Over and over, where there have been 
substantive objections to the bill, we have met them.
  At this point, not one Republican--for all of our contacts across the 
aisle--has expressed anyplace in this bill where an amendment could be 
made. We have never been given any language, we have never been shown 
the area that, in theory, is better for the unions. It is, as Senator 
McCain himself admitted, facially applied to corporations and unions 
and other organizations alike.
  I would refer back to the op-ed in today's New York Times by 
Republican former Senators Rudman and Hagel agreeing this is, in fact, 
a fair bill. It is balanced among all parties, and all Senators should 
support it.
  With that, I yield the floor to my colleague, Senator Sanders, with 
appreciation for allowing me that moment of his time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Vermont.
  Mr. SANDERS. Mr. President, I thank Senator Whitehouse, Senator 
Schumer, and all those who have been working so hard on this enormously 
important issue which has everything to do with whether our country 
remains the kind of democracy most of us want it to be.
  I come to the Senate floor today to express my profound disgust with 
the current state of our campaign finance system and to call for my 
fellow Senators, as a short-term effort, to pass the DISCLOSE Act. 
Passing the DISCLOSE Act would be an important step forward, but 
clearly we have much more to do on this issue.
  Long term, of course, we need a constitutional amendment to overturn 
this disastrous Supreme Court decision--the Citizens United 5-to-4 
decision of 2 years ago. Long term, in my view, we also need to move 
this country toward public funding of elections

[[Page S5063]]

so that once and for all big money will not dominate our political 
process.
  Long term, there is no question in my mind that Citizens United will 
go down in history as one of the worst decisions ever rendered by a 
U.S. Supreme Court. Five members of the Court came to the bizarre 
conclusion that corporations should be treated as if they were people; 
that they have a first amendment right to spend as much money as they 
want to buy candidates, to buy elections. Somehow, in the midst of all 
of this unbelievable amount of spending millions and millions of 
dollars, the Supreme Court came to the conclusion this would not even 
give the appearance of corruption. I think that is, frankly, an absurd 
conclusion.
  Mr. President, let me tell you--and my take on this may be a little 
different than some of my colleagues--what concerns me most about the 
Citizens United decision. If we look at Citizens United in tandem with 
other trends in our economy today, what we see is this Nation is 
rapidly moving from an economic and political society to an oligarchic 
form of society.
  Economically, what we see are fewer and fewer people who control our 
economy. We see a nation which has the most unequal distribution of 
wealth and income of any major country on Earth, in which the top 1 
percent of our Nation owns 40 percent of the wealth and the bottom 60 
percent owns 2 percent of the wealth. That gap between the very wealthy 
and everybody else is growing wider and wider. That is wealth in terms 
of income distribution.
  The situation is even worse. The last study we have seen suggests 
that 93 percent of all new income between 2009 and 2010 went to the top 
1 percent. So, economically, we are moving toward a nation in which a 
few people have a significant amount of the wealth of America--
significant amount of the income of America in terms of concentration 
of ownership. We see a situation in which six financial institutions on 
Wall Street have assets equivalent to two-thirds of the GDP of the 
United States of America--over $9 trillion controlled by six financial 
institutions. And the recklessness, greed, and illegal behavior of 
those financial institutions are what drove us into the recession we 
are struggling with right now.
  So now, as a nation, the trends are that fewer and fewer people own 
the wealth of America and fewer and fewer large corporations control 
the economy of America. But, apparently, that is not good enough for 
the 1 percent, for our millionaire and billionaire friends, because now 
they want to take that wealth and exercise it even more than has been 
the case in the past in the political realm. That takes us now to 
Citizens United.
  In the real world, we all know what is going on with Citizens United. 
We know billionaires are saying: Look, yeah, it is great I own an oil 
company. It is great that I own a coal company. It is great that I own 
gambling casinos. But, gee, I could have even more fun by owning the 
United States Government.
  So we have entities out there who are worth some $50 billion--and the 
Koch brothers come to mind. If you are worth $50 billion and you have 
all kinds of interactions with the Federal Government and you have 
strong political views, why wouldn't you spend $400 million--which is 
what the media says that family is going to spend, and maybe even 
more--if you can purchase the United States Government. That is not a 
bad investment.
  That is what Citizens United is about. It is billionaires spending 
huge amounts of money without disclosure--without disclosure.
  I would have gone further than this bill, but this bill is certainly 
an important step forward. What does it require? It says if someone is 
going to spend more than $10,000 in a campaign they have to make public 
who they are. I don't think that is a terribly onerous provision. The 
American people are not stupid. They understand if somebody is going to 
spend hundreds of millions of dollars on political activities they want 
something. That is what it is about.
  Why do people make campaign contributions? Many of us get a whole lot 
of campaign contributions from folks who give us $25, $30, $40. Most of 
my campaign contributions come from people who give us less than $200. 
But if somebody is going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a 
campaign, I think the American people have a right to know who that is 
and what they want; who is taking that money and what those 
contributors are going to get in return.
  If you are a billionaire and you want lower taxes, have the courage 
to say: Hey, I am a billionaire. I am putting money into a party, and 
what I am going to get out of it is lower taxes for the rich. If I am 
somebody in a corporation that is polluting the air and the land and 
the water, and I want to get rid of those regulations, have the guts to 
come forward and say: Yeah, that is what I want. I want to eviscerate 
the EPA. I don't care that children in Vermont or Rhode Island get 
sick, that is what I want.
  So what this is about is fairly elementary. What this is about is 
simply having those people, those institutions, those corporations and 
unions that are putting more than $10,000 into the political process 
reveal who they are.
  What concerns me very much about this whole process--and I think 
concerns the American people--is while our middle class disappears and 
poverty increases, while the gap between the very wealthy and everybody 
is growing wider, it appears very clear right now these folks are not 
content, the top 1 percent is not content with simply owning the 
economy, with controlling the economy. They now want to control, to an 
even greater degree than is currently the case, the political process 
as well. That is what these campaign contributions of hundreds of 
millions of dollars are about.
  When I think back on the history of this country and the enormous 
sacrifices men and women made defending the American ideal--the ideal 
that was the vision to the entire world. The entire world looked to the 
United States for what a strong democracy was about--one person, one 
vote. In my State of Vermont, we have meetings and people come out--one 
person, one vote--to discuss the municipal town budget, to discuss the 
school budget. And now we have evolved to a situation where one family 
can spend $400 million buying politicians, buying elections. That is a 
long way away from what democracy is supposed to mean in this country. 
The DISCLOSE Act is a very important first step forward, and I hope we 
can get strong support for that important piece of legislation.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I want to follow up a bit on what I 
said I would do earlier, because this has been in some respects half a 
debate. Other than my friend Senator McCain who has courageously fought 
on this issue for some years, we have not heard much from the other 
side of the aisle here, so in some respects it is only half of a 
debate. In another respect, of course, it is no debate at all, because 
we are in a filibuster situation with the Republicans blocking us 
actually going to the Senate debate on this bill. So while it is debate 
in the lay sense of the word--it is a discussion--it is not Senate 
debate on the floor, because we stand here being filibustered with a 
majority of Senators who demonstrably support going to this bill.
  I said I would describe some of the things my Republican colleagues 
have said in the past about disclosure, so let me begin doing that.
  Senator McConnell, of course, has very publicly been in favor of it. 
That may relate to the fact that a report by the Corporate Reform 
Coalition went State by State, and the Republican leader's home State 
of Kentucky has a ban on independent expenditures by corporations in 
its State constitution. Its State constitution bans the conduct that is 
at issue here. Kentucky has disclosure provisions that require 
disclosure when independent expenditures of over $500 are made in any 
one election. He is here objecting to a $10,000 limit, and Kentucky 
disclosure provisions ``require disclosure when independent 
expenditures of over $500 are made in any one election.'' It further 
requires under Kentucky statute 121.190, subpart 1, that the name of 
the advertising sponsor must be put on any communication. So consistent 
with the laws of his home State, our Republican leader has for many 
years stood out in favor of disclosure. Around 2000 he said, 
``Republicans are in favor of disclosure.'' And he said:


[[Page S5064]]


       Public disclosure of campaign contributions and spending 
     should be expedited so voters can judge for themselves what 
     is appropriate.

  Other leaders on the Republican side, such as Senator Alexander, have 
said:

       I support campaign finance reform, but to me that means 
     individual contributions, free speech and full disclosure. In 
     other words, any individual can give whatever they want as 
     long as it is disclosed every day on the Internet.

  That is exactly what this bill does, but only for donations $10,000 
and more. I don't believe there was a floor in Senator Alexander's 
remarks.
  I see the distinguished Senator from Iowa has arrived. In the spirit 
of going back and forth, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Iowa.


                             The DREAM Act

  Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, last September, President Obama 
responded to amnesty proponents, denying that he had authority to 
unilaterally grant special status to individuals who may be eligible 
under the DREAM Act.
  The DREAM Act has been around the Senate for discussion for about a 
decade, and in different forms. It has been voted down several times by 
this body--mostly because the leader won't allow for an amendment 
process to improve the bill; otherwise, it probably could have been 
worked upon.
  A few months ago when asked by amnesty advocates to push the bill 
through Executive order, President Obama said this:

       This notion that somehow I can just change the laws 
     unilaterally is just not true. The fact of the matter is 
     there are laws on the books that I have to enforce. And I 
     think there's been a great disservice done to the cause of 
     getting the DREAM Act passed and getting comprehensive 
     immigration passed by perpetrating the notion that somehow, 
     by myself, I can go and do these things. It's just not true. 
     We live in a democracy. You have to pass bills through the 
     legislature, and then I can sign it.

  But 1 month ago, President Obama continued his ``we can't wait'' 
campaign and circumvented Congress, again, to significantly change the 
law all by himself. On June 15, he announced that the Department of 
Homeland Security would lay out a process by which immigrants who have 
come here illegally could apply for relief and remain in the United 
States without the fear of deportation. So what has changed in the last 
9 months, when the President of the United States said last September 
that he could not unilaterally grant amnesty?
  Before I dive into the details of how poorly planned and implemented 
the directive of June 15 will be, I have to question the legal 
authority of the President to institute a plan of this magnitude.
  I, along with 19 other Senators, sent the President a letter and 
asked if he consulted with attorneys prior to the June 15 announcement 
about his legal authority to grant deferred action and work 
authorizations to a specific class of immigrants who have come here 
illegally. It is important that we get that question answered, because 
last September the President said he didn't have the legal authority to 
do it. We asked the President if he obtained a legal opinion from the 
Office of Legal Counsel or anyone else within his administration. To 
date, we have not received any documentation that discusses any 
authority whatsoever that he has to undertake this massive immigration 
directive.
  I know the Secretary of Homeland Security has discretion to determine 
who is put in removal proceedings. Prosecutorial discretion has been 
around for a long time, but it hasn't been abused to this extent. The 
President is claiming the Secretary will implement this directive using 
prosecutorial discretion. However, millions of immigrants coming here 
illegally will be instructed to report to the U.S. Citizenship and 
Immigration Service and proactively apply. This is not being done on a 
case-by-case basis as they want to make it appear.
  The President's directive is an affront to our system of 
representative government and the legislative process, and it is an 
inappropriate use of executive power based upon what he said last 
September, that he didn't have the authority to do this. The President 
bypassed Congress because he couldn't lead on immigration reform, and 
he couldn't work in a bipartisan manner on an issue that involves 
undocumented young people.
  The President's directive runs contrary to the principle that 
American workers must come before foreign nationals. His policies only 
increase competition for American students and workers who struggle to 
find employment in today's economy. And that unemployment is 8.2 
percent official, 11 or 12 percent unofficial.
  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate 
among the age group 16 to 24 has been nearly 17 percent for the last 
year. According to a Gallup poll conducted in April of this year, 32 
percent of the 18-to-29-year-olds in the U.S. workforce, if not 
unemployed, are underemployed.
  The President's plan to get people back to work is to grant 
immigrants who come here illegally a work authorization. He must be 
seriously out of touch if he doesn't think there is competition already 
for American workers.
  Now I wish to talk about how poorly this directive has been thought 
out. This is the implementation of a directive the President said he 
didn't have the authority to do in the first place. But if you are 
going to have an illegal directive, you ought to at least know it will 
work. It is my understanding the White House informed Homeland Security 
officials of this plan just days before it was announced on June 15. 
They were unprepared, and have since been scrambling to figure out how 
it will be carried out.
  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service--the agency in charge of all 
immigration benefits, including work authorizations, visa applications, 
asylum petitions, and employment verifications for employers--will be 
the agency tasked with handling millions of new applications for 
deferred status and work permits. Agents in the field are confused as 
to how to do their jobs and fear retaliation if they don't do the right 
thing. So in essence, this White House is telling agents in the field 
to begin a practice called catch and release.
  Last Friday, Homeland Security officials briefed the Judiciary 
Committee on the directive. Staff of the Judiciary Committee were told 
that agents of the agency would be required to release immigrants who 
come here illegally if they fell into the criteria laid out. But what 
are the ramifications if an agent does not release them but instead 
uses his discretion to say the person was not eligible and puts them in 
removal proceedings?
  You will be astounded by the answer we got, because the Department of 
Homeland Security explained that such an agent would be subject to 
disciplinary action--disciplinary action if you are doing what your job 
is required to do. The agent's actions would be considered during their 
annual personnel review.
  So there will be no discretion for agents, and they will be forced to 
give deferred action to anyone who comes close to the criteria laid 
out, even despite their hesitation to do so, or face retaliation from 
bureaucratic higher-ups.
  It is as though Homeland Security forgot their mission which is:

       To ensure a homeland that is safe, secure, and resilient 
     against terrorism and other hazards where American interests, 
     aspirations, and way of life can thrive.

  Once we overcome the question of legal authority and the reality that 
there was little thinking put into this plan before it was announced on 
June 15, we are left to oversee the details of the implementation plan. 
Homeland Security officials say they will have a process laid out by 
August 15. We have very little details, but Homeland Security officials 
did give some insight on Friday in this briefing to members of the 
Judiciary Committee staff. Here is what we learned.
  We know people under the age of 30, who entered before their 16th 
birthday, have been here for at least 5 years, and are currently in 
school may qualify for deferred action. We know there are caveats to 
the criteria. Some criminal offenses will be OK, and young people can 
finish their education after they are granted deferred action.
  We know individuals with final orders of removal will be eligible for 
deferred action. We know these people will not have to appear for an 
in-person interview to benefit from this directive of the President of 
June 15. We know they will be granted this special status for 2 years, 
and those who are denied will not be put into removal proceedings. We 
know this is not aimed at

[[Page S5065]]

helping just youth since the age limit is 30. So who are we going to 
help over age 30, because we thought from the President's announcement, 
if people are over 30 years of age nobody is going to benefit. We know 
people under the age of 30 are not the only people going to be 
considered for relief.
  Secretary Napolitano said so herself. She told CNN's Wolf Blitzer the 
following:

       We have internally set it up so that the parents are not 
     referred for immigration enforcement if the young person 
     comes in for deferred action.

  I was not born yesterday. This administration is not going to give a 
benefit to immigrants here illegally and then force his or her parents 
to leave the country, which begs the question, What will they do if the 
young people are eligible and receive deferred action, but the parent 
is a criminal, a gang member, or a sex offender?
  Because this program has not been well thought out and because it is 
being rushed to benefit people by the end of the year, there is no 
doubt that fraud will be a problem. How will Federal officials who 
process the applications ensure that information provided by the 
individual is accurate? How will they verify that one truly entered the 
country before the age of 16 or is currently under the age of 30?
  Homeland Security officials act as though they are prepared to handle 
the influx of counterfeit documents that will be presented. The 
department officials are going to rely on their small fraud detection 
unit--who already happen to be very busy working every day on other 
types of immigration benefits--to determine if people are truly 
eligible. What will be the consequences for individuals who 
intentionally defraud the government? They need a fraud and abuse 
prevention plan. Without one they will likely legalize every single 
immigrant who came here illegally, who is already on U.S. soil.
  The administration will announce more details about this plan in the 
next few weeks. I am anxious to see if they plan to only provide 
deferred action to this population. Department officials refuse to 
elaborate on whether some of these individuals will be able to get 
advanced parole. That is a special status that allows an immigrant 
coming here illegally to adjust to permanent residence and then gain 
citizenship. This administration wants people to believe this is not 
amnesty and that these people will not have lawful status, but I am 
watching to see if they try to pull the wool over our eyes and provide 
a status that allows these people to adjust and remain here 
permanently.
  Finally, a major flaw in the President's plan is how this is going to 
be paid for. A massive amnesty program is going to cost a lot of money. 
So what are the taxpayers going to have to cough up out of their hard-
earned dollars to pay for it? Department officials said on Friday that 
illegal immigrants may not be charged for their special status. The 
individual would be charged $380 if they choose to apply for a work 
authorization. They could not assure us that funding would not be 
redirected from other programs to this initiative.
  To reprogram funds within the Department, the Secretary must notify 
and gain consent of the majority and minority leaders on the 
Appropriations Committee. However, when pressed, Department officials 
could not assure us that they would not bypass the longstanding process 
and reprogram dollars on their own. The U.S. Citizenship and 
Immigration Service will be forced to concentrate on this program, 
leaving employers, foreign workers, and legal immigrants without the 
service they need to work, visit, or remain in the United States.
  If the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service adjudication staff 
will be diverted from their normal duties to handle the millions of 
potential deferred action applications, this can only have a 
devastating impact on other programs within the Department. I fear this 
plan will bankrupt the agency that oversees immigration benefits and 
affect all legal immigration for years to come.
  I fear the President has overstepped his authority again. The 
President, time and again, has shown no leadership or refused to work 
with Congress on issues that directly impact the American people. And 
when it comes to the immigration issue he promised the people in the 
2008 election, that in his first year in office he would have an 
immigration bill before Congress, he has not even presented an 
immigration bill yet. He insisted he was coming here to change 
Washington, but he changed it for the worse. He insisted he was going 
to make this the most transparent administration ever, but Congress and 
the American people are left in the dark.
  No matter where one stands on immigration, we should all be appalled 
at how this plan has been carried out. Whether it is legal or illegal 
is one thing. But when it is not thoroughly thought out, how it is 
going to be implemented, that is not how the chief executive of a major 
operation such as the U.S. Government ought to be acting.
  We should all be concerned that our votes are rendered meaningless as 
a result of the assumption of power on June 15 that the President said 
last September he did not have. Until we can end this plan, I encourage 
my colleagues to watch over its implementation for the future of our 
country. The integrity of our whole immigration system is hanging in 
the balance.
  This immigration system is very important because the United States 
has opened doors for more people than any other country in the world to 
come here legally. About 1 million people come here legally. So we are 
a welcoming nation. We are a nation built upon immigrants bringing new 
ideas to this country, making this a very not only colorful country but 
a dynamic society. We ought to leave it that way. But this change to 
our immigration system for people to come here legally jeopardizes a 
lot of people who want to abide by our laws and come here and make our 
country even richer.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Washington.
  Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I come to the floor today to speak in 
strong support of the DISCLOSE Act, which will help put an end to 
secretive campaign spending and close the glaring campaign finance 
loopholes that have been opened up by the Citizens United ruling. I 
thank the Senator from Rhode Island for his tremendous leadership on 
this critical issue and all his work which has gotten us to this point 
today on this very important bill.
  This Supreme Court ruling was truly a step backwards for our 
democracy. It overturned decades of campaign finance law and policy, 
and it allowed corporations and special interest groups to spend 
unlimited amounts of their money influencing our democracy. The 
Citizens United ruling has given special interest groups a megaphone 
that they can use to drown out the voices of citizens in my home State 
of Washington and across the country. The DISCLOSE Act would return 
transparency to this process. It would return accountability to this 
process. It would be a major step to returning citizens' voices to the 
important election decisions we make in our country.
  This is a very personal issue for me. When I first ran for the Senate 
back in 1992, I was a long-shot candidate without a lot of money or 
wealthy corporate backers. But what I did have was amazing and 
passionate volunteers who were at my side. They cared deeply about 
making sure the voices of Washington State's families were represented. 
They made phone calls, they went door to door with us, they talked to 
families across our State who wanted more from their government.
  We ended up winning that grassroots campaign because the people's 
voices were heard loudly and clearly. To be honest, I don't think it 
would have been possible if corporations and special interests had been 
able to drown out their voices with this unlimited barrage of negative 
ads against candidates who did not support their interests. That is why 
I support this DISCLOSE Act. I want to make sure no force is greater in 
our elections than the power of voters across our cities and towns, and 
no voice is louder than citizens who care about making their State and 
country a better place to live.
  The DISCLOSE Act of 2012 should not be contentious. It simply does 
what a majority of American people view as a no-brainer. It requires 
outside groups to divulge their campaign-related fundraising and 
spending, plain and simple.

[[Page S5066]]

It does this by shining a very bright spotlight on the entire process 
and by strengthening the overall disclosure requirements on groups who 
are attempting to sway our elections.
  Too often corporations and special interest groups are able to hide 
their spending behind a mask of front organizations because they know 
voters would be less likely to believe ads if they knew the motives 
behind their sponsors. For instance, an indication of who is funding 
many of these shell organizations can be seen in the delayed 
disclosures of the so-called super PACs. In fact, a Forbes article 
recently reported that 30 billionaires now are backing Romney's super 
PAC. It is unknown how much these same billionaires or their corporate 
interests are already providing to other organizations with even less 
scrutiny.
  The DISCLOSE Act ends all that. Specifically, the act requires any of 
these front organizations who spend $10,000 or more on a campaign to 
file a disclosure report with the Federal Election Commission within 24 
hours and file a new report for each additional $10,000 or more that is 
spent. This is a major step in pulling back the curtain on the 
outlandish and unfair spending practices that are corrupting our 
Nation's political process. It is a major step toward the kind of open 
and honest government the American people demand and deserve.
  The DISCLOSE Act brings transparency to these shady spending 
practices and makes sure voters have the information they need so they 
know who they can trust. It is a commonsense bill. It should not be 
controversial, and anyone who thinks voters should have a louder voice 
than special interest groups should be supporting our bill.
  This bill aims to protect the very core of our Federal election 
process. It protects the process by which our citizens fairly assess 
the people they believe will best come here and be their voice and 
represent their communities. It exposes the hidden hand of special 
interests, and it creates an open process for who gets to stand before 
them as representatives.
  I am proud to support this bill and proud of the efforts by Senator 
Whitehouse and so many others in the Senate. I urge all our colleagues 
to vote for this bill. Let's move it forward. Let's do what is right 
for America.

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