Memo to Senator Reid: Take Ensign Up on His Offer on S. 223


Knowing we had a great opportunity to corner Sen. Ensign, who’s blocking a bill requiring electronic reporting for senators’ campaign contributions, we sent our intrepid staff to the National Press Club today, where he was holding forth on other matters. We asked Sen. Ensign why he continues to hold up S. 223.

As we’ve talked about before, Ensign’s insistence that the Senate vote on a controversial and unrelated amendment has jeopardized this straightforward bill that otherwise has broad, bipartisan support. Without that amendment, S. 223 would sail through the Senate with nearly unanimous backing.

During the Press Club event and after, staff from Sunlight and the Center for Responsive Politics asked Sen. Ensign if he would be willing to lift his objection to the bill if he was promised a hearing on his amendment in the Rules Committee (an offer already made by Rules Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein). Sen. Ensign declined, insisting that he wants one hour of debate on the amendment, and would subject his amendment to, as he put it, a “60 vote requirement.”

Ensign’s amendment has no place in this bill, and we question his motives in insisting that it be part of the debate on the electronic filing measure. It is disingenuous for him to claim that he is “100% for electronic reporting” (subscription required for that link) while single-handedly preventing this bill from passing. But, we are cautiously optimistic that, as Ensign himself pointed out, his amendment would be defeated if it came up for a vote.

We hope Senator Reid will take Senator Ensign up on his offer and bring S. 223 to the floor if the Senate reconvenes after Election Day. We know how the Senate works, though. Senator Reid will want to know Ensign’s amendment will fail before he can bring the bill up for a vote.

That’s where you can help. Go to and call your senators to urge them to support the bill and also oppose Ensign’s amendment. If enough of them agree to oppose Ensign’s amendment, this bill will become law and we will finally have timely, online access to who is funding Senate campaigns.

And thanks to all of you who have already called your senators and reported back on our site!