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The Last Thing Congress Needs…

WASHINGTON – In a speech on the House Floor today, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) warned of the devastating impact a Supreme Court decision to eliminate limits for high-dollar campaign contributors would have on Congress and the electoral process.

Congressman Yarmuth spoke shortly after attending this morning’s oral arguments in the Supreme Court case McCutcheon v. FEC, in which an Alabama Republican donor is challenging the aggregate limits on individuals contributing to campaigns. During the current two-year cycle, individuals can contribute as much as $123,200: $48,600 to candidates, and $74,600 to parties and committees.

If the Court abolishes aggregate limits, individuals could contribute as much as $3.5 million each to candidates and political parties, offering billionaires even more influence on public policy through our elections.

Click on the image to view the speech, the full text of which is below.

Mr. Speaker, the last thing Congress needs is more special-interest candidates who don’t answer to the American people.

And yet this morning, the Senate Minority Leader and his big-money allies in the Republican Party once again asked the Supreme Court to give billionaires more influence on public policy through our elections. If this effort succeeds, individuals would be permitted to give as much as $3.5 million each to candidates and parties next year – in addition to the already unlimited amounts they can spend independently.

It should go without saying that the number of people who are able to contribute on this scale is minuscule. But the ranks of those who would be affected by this deluge of money cannot be overstated. It is simply not possible to turn up the volume on the already amplified voices of a few wealthy donors without drowning out the millions of Americans already struggling to be heard.

The fact is, we will never have a fair and balanced budget or a more equitable tax system while the well-off and well-connected are allowed to control members of Congress.

Mr. Speaker, this is not the republic the framers intended. When they created Congress — and when the people approved the 17th Amendment, appointing themselves the electors of the Senate — they wanted to ensure government was accountable to the people it serves.

The more we undermine campaign finance laws, the further we get from that fundamental principle.