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Hoyer Remarks at Press Event Marking 10 Years Since Citizens United, Urging Senate Republicans to Allow a Vote on the For the People Act

WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke at a press event today to mark the ten-year anniversary of Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court ruling, which falls on January 21, and call on Senate Republicans to allow a vote on H.R. 1, the For the People Act. Below is a transcript of his remarks:

“Thank you very much, Madam Speaker… I am so pleased to join my colleague from Maryland, [Rep.] John Sarbanes, who has been such a leader on this issues, thank you very much. His father and I were very, very close, and I’ve become very close to his son, and his son has demonstrated the same kind of integrity and focus on good government that his father did. [Rep.] Ben Ray Lujan, the Assistant Speaker, thank you for your galvanizing, certainly for the freshman class, on this issue. And [Rep.] Chris Pappas, thank you very much for being a representative of that freshman class, and [Rep.] Tom O’Halleran, who has been very much in [this issue]. And thank you, of course, our leader on the [Committee on House Administration], [Rep.]  Zoe Lofgren.

“What’s happened in these ten years? Tiffany Mueller [of End Citizens United], who is leading the effort so well, just told me [there was] about $780 million [in] outside spending before Citizens United. Now, $4.4 billion dollars. [NOTE: the figures are $750 million and $4.5 billion, respectively.] That’s a 400 percent increase. Eighty percent [of outside spending] prior to Citizens United was disclosed spending. My mother used to say to me: ‘consider the source.’ You know, I’d say mom, someone said something. [She said,] ‘consider the source.’ If it’s secret, if it’s dark, if it’s not disclosed, you can’t consider the source. You do not know who is talking to you or [who is] supporting others. Now, 50 percent [of outside spending is disclosed] – a  major reduction in the knowledge voters have. That’s not what our democracy is about. Our democracy is about citizens having information on which they can make sound judgements. Consider the source. That’s what this is about.

“One of the first major bills, as you’ve heard, was H.R. 1 [the For the People Act]. It dealt not only with campaign finance reform, it dealt with voting rights, it dealt with redistricting, it dealt with making our democracy work better for the people. That bill would undo the worst effects of the Citizens United ruling. That ruling allowed billions of dollars in dark and undisclosed money to infiltrate our politics and drown out the voices of the voters, of the people. We are committed to ending Citizens United, which is why we passed H.R. 1.

“I was proud to be hosted by End Citizens United in late 2018 with Tiffany [to lay out our vision for what] eventually became H.R. 1 with the help of leaders like Rep. Sarbanes, Chairwoman Lofgren, and others. We spoke at that point in time, John and I both spoke, about how we needed to reform our politics. To do that we must end the wrongheaded [decision], [which is] not based upon facts or what the expectations could have been – we knew what was going to happen when Citizens United [occurred]. We knew that dark, undisclosed money would infiltrate at large levels, our politics, and obfuscate rather than illuminate the politics for the American citizens.

“H.R. 1 would do that, and it is a shame that Senator McConnell and Senate Republicans are blocking it, as well as so many other pieces of legislation which would make our country more open, more transparent, more democratic, and yes, more safe. I urge Senator McConnell to allow votes on H.R. 1.  I don’t know whether we’ll have 51 or 60 votes to pass it,  but in democracy if you don’t have a vote, you’ll never know. So, I would urge them to act on this legislation and on so many other pieces of legislation which will make America more open, more democratic, more free, more responsive to its citizens."

Distribution channels: U.S. Politics


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