WASHINGTON — President Obama hasn’t signed it into law yet. But that didn’t stop U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer Tuesday from trying to strip a controversial provision inserted into the 2015 federal spending bill allowing wealthy donors to give vastly larger sums to national political parties.
Kilmer, a freshman Democrat from Gig Harbor, jumped on the widespread outrage over new campaign finance rules that would enable rich individuals to give six times as much to national Democratic or Republican party committees — up to $777,600 per year, or more than $1.5 million per election cycle.
Kilmer introduced the “Close the Floodgates Act” with just days remaining before the House is scheduled to adjourn and bring the 113th Congress to a close. He also did it hours before Obama signed the $1.1 trillion appropriations bill, which will fund the federal government except the Department of Homeland Security to the end of the current fiscal year in September.
That spending bill, which cleared the Senate late Saturday, is larded with hundreds of favors and breaks for lobbying factions. Potato farmers, for instance, finally prevailed in getting the white spuds recognized as a vegetable eligible for purchase by low-income families under the federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.
Kilmer said in a statement the bill is intended to help arrest the flood of money from special-interest groups, the latest wave which was unleashed by Citizens United, the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that opened the way for unlimited political spending by corporations and unions.
“There is already too much money in our politics,” Kilmer said. “Slipping a provision into a must-pass government funding bill that multiplies ten-fold the amount that wealthy donors can contribute to political parties is exactly why folks hold Congress in such low regard.”
Jason Phelps, a spokesman for Kilmer, said no co-sponsors have yet signed on to the legislation.
“Given Derek’s views on the issue, I expect us to continue to fight on this in the next Congress,” Phelps said.