The procedural vote ended 49-49, with all Democrats present voting to advance the bill and all Republicans present voting against. Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin is out with Covid this week, although she tweeted that she supports the legislation, and Republican Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho was also absent.
The legislation would require greater transparency into who is behind much of the secretive, often negative, advertising campaign. It would require most independent groups that pay for political advertising — which is currently not required to disclose the names of donors — to release the names of those who give donations of $10,000 or more.
“Ultimately this comes down to public trust,” Biden said in a White House speech. “Dark money erodes public trust. We need to protect public trust and I’m determined to do that.”
Similarly, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had insisted earlier this week they would bring the bill to the Senate floor to put GOP members on the record as lawmakers turn toward the midterm elections.
“This week, Republicans are going to have to take a stand on whether they want to fight the power of dark money or allow this cancer to grow even worse,” he said.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island who is a major proponent of the legislation, told CNN on Wednesday that it is “totally important to get members on the record,” even though the bill had very little chance of advancing.
The DISCLOSE Act first passed the House of Representatives narrowly in 2010 and failed twice in the Senate in 2012.