What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Campaign Finance Reform : (S. 1) On a motion to table (kill) an amendment requiring disclosure of political campaign contributions made by individuals who make more than $1 million from development of Canadian “tar sands” oil fields
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(S. 1) On a motion to table (kill) an amendment requiring disclosure of political campaign contributions made by individuals who make more than $1 million from development of Canadian “tar sands” oil fields
senate Roll Call 26     Jan 22, 2015
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Conservative

This vote was on a motion to table (kill) an amendment requiring disclosure of political campaign contributions made by individuals who make more than $1 million from development of Canadian “tar sands” oil fields.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) had offered the amendment during consideration of a bill authorizing construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline would carry Canada’s tar sands oil fields to the south-central United States, where it could be sold on world markets. The project was seen as important to the continued development of Canada’s tar sands oil industry.

Sen. Whitehouse’s amendment targeted individuals and companies that held leases or otherwise profited from the tar sands oil boom. Under the terms of the amendment, anyone who made more than $1 million would be required to disclose campaign contributions larger than $200.

However, before the amendment came to a vote, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) offered a “motion to table” it. If successful, this motion would prevent Sen. Whitehouse’s amendment from getting an up-or-down vote, effectively killing it.

Sen. Whitehouse argued that his amendment would provide a “beam of daylight” into the secretive world of campaign finance. With so many wealthy individuals spending large sums to influence U.S. elections, American voters deserved to know who was bankrolling their elected representatives’ campaigns, he said.

“It is a little bit unusual to some that the opening measure of the new Republican majority would be a project that advantages a foreign oil company,” Sen. Whitehouse said. “This is the kind of information the U.S. Supreme Court has clearly said citizens are entitled to know in order to make appropriate decisions, and in our democracy we should put our citizens first.”

No lawmakers spoke out in favor of the motion to table Sen. Whitehouse’s amendment. However, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) criticized a nearly identical amendment offered by Sen. Whitehouse just a few days later. She argued that the topic of campaign finance was unrelated to the underlying bill, and therefore an inappropriate topic for the current debate. Federal law already required disclosure of contributions to official political campaigns, she noted.

“This amendment is not relevant to this debate,” Sen. Murkowski said. “To the extent it is legal for a person or a company to make a campaign contribution, Federal and State election laws require public disclosure of those campaign contributions.”

The Senate agreed to table Sen. Whitehouse’s amendment by a vote of 52-43. Voting “yea” were 52 Republicans. Voting “nay” were 43 Democrats. As a result, the Senate defeated the effort to hold an up-or-down vote on an amendment requiring disclosure of political campaign contributions made by individuals who make more than $1 million from development of Canadian “tar sands” oil fields.

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