Chairman Feinstein Urges Senate Republican Leader McConnell to Help Remove Roadblock on Electronic Filing Bill’s Passage
May 07 2007
Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chairman of the Rules and Administration Committee, today sent a letter to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) requesting his assistance in removing a Republican roadblock that has halted passage of legislation that would require Senate campaign finance reports to be filed electronically.
The legislation, S. 223, is sponsored by Senators Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and is cosponsored by 37 other Senators. Including Senator Cochran, 15 of the cosponsors are Republicans. The Rules Committee approved the legislation with no opposition on March 28, 2007.
Chairman Feinstein called for unanimous consent to adopt the bill on April 17 and April 26, but the objection of an unnamed Republican senator held up passage on both dates.
S. 223 would require Senate campaign finance reports to be filed electronically, rather than in paper format. Currently, House candidates, Presidential candidates, political action committees and party committees are all required to file electronically. But Senators, Senate candidates and party committees are exempt.
The Senate campaign filing system in place today requires paper copies of disclosure reports to be filed with the Senate Office of Public Records, which scans them to make a digital copy and sends the copy to the Federal Elections Committee (FEC) on a dedicated communications line. The FEC then prints the report and sends it to a vendor in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where the information is keyed in by hand and then transferred back to the FEC database – at cost of approximately $250,000 annually to taxpayers.
Following is the text of Senator Feinstein’s letter to Senator McConnell:
May 7, 2007
The Honorable Mitch McConnell
The Republican Leader
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
I write to ask for your assistance in getting S. 223, the “Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act,” adopted by the Senate. I am willing and eager to work with you and our Senate colleagues to get this legislation passed.
As the Republican Leader and also a member of the Rules Committee, you are well aware of hurdles Senators Feingold and I have faced in having this bill brought up for consideration and passed on the Senate Floor.
To date, the Member or Members on your side who objected to taking up and adopting the bill have not come forward to say why the bill is being held up.
This is a simple, straight-forward bill that brings transparency to campaign report filing procedures. There is no public opposition. Most important, S. 223 has broad bipartisan support -- currently, 38 of our colleagues have signed on as cosponsors, including 15 Republicans.
Your press spokesman has suggested that the bill was held up because some members of your party may wish to offer amendments. I am ready to meet with those Senators to discuss their amendments and try to address their concerns.
If they insist on remaining anonymous, I would ask you to identify those amendments yourself.
If those amendments, like this bill, have broad bipartisan support and no one opposes them on the merits, we may be able to reach agreement to have them considered.
If, on the other hand, they are controversial proposals and would threaten the ultimate enactment of this bill, I would ask that you allow the Rules Committee to consider them in the normal course and permit this bill to go through without amendment.
I look forward to working with you and my Senate colleagues to make S. 223 law.
With warm personal regards,