It was one thing for House Republican leaders to cast a vote against free speech today, but it’s quite another to brag about it. Hours after Majority Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.) bragged about passage of the 527 Reform Act, his two GOP colleagues, Speaker Denny Hastert (Ill.) and Majority Leader John Boehner (Ohio), issued their own press release.
Republicans can try to spin this issue as much as they’d like, but today they voted against bedrock American principles of free speech for political campaigns. And the sad part is they did so for purely political reasons: a) 527s are more inclined to help Democrats and b) it’s a good talking point in this era of “culture of corruption.”
Here’s how Hastert and Boehner spun their attack on the 1st Amendment:
The American people have every right to expect the highest ethical standards from their elected leaders and today’s action in the House demonstrates Republicans are serious about moving real reforms that help restore the trust between the American people and their government.
We’re pleased to see House passage of the 527 Reform Act, the first piece of the broad GOP lobbying and earmark reform package as well as significant steps forward made by both the Rules and Judiciary Committees. With the remaining three committees expected to act later this week, we’re confident the larger reform package will be ready for House floor action once Congress returns from the Easter district work period.
If Hastert and Boehner were serious about reform, they would have allowed Rep. Mike Pence (R.-Ind.) to offer his 527 Fairness Act or his pro-freedom amendment. But ramming down the throats a bill that restricts political speech is nothing to brag about.