Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle raised their voices Wednesday over whether a sweeping election reform bill proposed by Democrats would drain or fill the Washington swamp. The wide-ranging anti-corruption bill, House Resolution 1, includes a provision that would increase transparency in campaign finance by requiring candidates to report where their campaign money comes from. That measure was the focus of committee members from both parties during the nearly four-hour hearing in the House Oversight Committee. Bradley Smith, an expert witness and chairman of the Institute for Free Speech, repeatedly told committee members that the bill would have a “chilling effect” on citizens’ desire to engage in elections through avenues like campaign donations. “You run the risk of regulations swallowing up the entire discourse in which the public engages,” Smith said.
During cross-examination, Democrat Representative Eleanor Norton from the District of Columbia grilled Smith on how increased transparency could possibly hurt the election process.
“Let it all hang out and let everyone make their own judgment,” she said.
Statements from Representative Clay Higgins, R-La., drew some snickers from the crowd when he asserted that the bill – criticized by some right-wing lawmakers as “outrageous” and radical – “resembles Russian government policy.”
While Higgins agreed with Smith that the bill could hold some weight if it were to be split into its component parts, he argued with his voice raised that the “expiration date will come” on the First Amendment if HR 1 passes.
Full Article: Debate Over Election Reform Bill Gets Heated in House.