On Monday, the U.S. Senate took up the DISCLOSE Act - which would require SuperPACs and "social welfare" organizations (political committees masquerading as nonprofits) to disclose their donors to the public.
Naturally, the Republicans filibustered the bill and forced Democrats to seek 60 votes to bring it to the floor for debate. On a perfect party-line split, the cloture vote failed.
Undeterred, Senator Jeff Merkley and a few colleagues stayed for the next seven hours to discuss various aspects of the bill. They are expected to bring it to another vote on Tuesday. In a statement, Senator Merkley said:
Tonight we will debate whether we truly believe in the first three words of our Constitution: ‘We the People.’ The flood of secret money unleashed by Citizens United is drowning out the voice of the people. Indeed, those who oppose disclosure are seeking to replace ‘We the People’ with ‘We the Powerful.’ This is wrong in so many ways. It’s way past time to shine a light on the darkness and discover who or what this money really stands for.
Speaking at the end of debate, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) promised to keep bringing it back:
We're not done. This is too important. It's too important for what America stands for. It's too important for the middle class that are going to be losers in the debates that are influenced and corrupted by special interest money. It's too important for the world which depends on the example that America provides.
We didn't have any luck today. We're going to vote again tomorrow. I urge my colleagues to vote with us. But even if we don't win tomorrow, we'll be back again and again and again.
When Joshua took the Israelites around the city of Jericho, they went around and around blowing their rams' horns so that those walls would come tumbling down. It didn't happen on the first circuit, it didn't happen on the second. According to the Bible, Joshua had to go around the city of Jericho seven times before the walls came-a-tumblin' down.
I don't care if we have to do this seven times, or 77 times. We are going to do this because it's right.
Whitehouse's mention of "Jericho" wasn't just a one-off rhetorical device. He previewed his "Jericho Strategy" in June at the Netroots Nation conference, at a panel discussion with Merkley and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
Meanwhile, the petition drive launched by Senators Merkley and Whitehouse has been joined by 17 other Senators - and over 335,000 people. Check it out here.