Comparing the House and Senate Versions of the DISCLOSE Act


Earlier this week I wrote about my curiosity regarding the differences between the House and Senate versions of the DISCLOSE Act, legislation that responds to the Supreme Court’s campaign finance decision in Citizens United. Today, I have my answer.

Drawing upon THOMAS, Congress’ online repository of its legislative information, I obtained XML versions of both documents and used Microsoft Word to compare the two. (For unknown reasons, although the House version has been available on THOMAS since last Friday, the Senate version only became available today.)

I have identified a handful of changes that go beyond style and organization:

  • The Senate version has findings relating to the rates that the media can charge for the purchase of advertisements, and rules implementing “lowest unit charge.” (Sect. 401). Neither the findings nor rules exist in the House version.
  • There are differences regarding the period of time during which the prohibitions on electioneering communications apply. (Sec. 202)
  • The amounts of money triggering disclose of public independent disclosures are not the same. (Sec. 211)
  • The Senate version requires Senate candidates to file their campaign reports with the FEC (Sec. 231). This is a rules change, and does not need to be in the House version.

There aren’t a lot of changes, but I would have missed several of them in the 90-something page documents but for the legislation’s online publication in a format that allows for easy comparison. Were they published only as PDFs, this task would have been much harder.

Still unexplained is why it took so long for THOMAS to make the Senate version of the DISCLOSE Act available in the first place.

DISCLOSE Act comparison