Senators Vote to Restrict Free Speech for Citizen Activists

“Today the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed onerous disclosure rules on America’s grassroots activists that infringe on several First Amendment protections including freedom of speech, assembly and the ability of citizens to petition the government,” stated Kerri Houston, National Spokesperson for The LobbySense Coalition.
“These restrictions are part of a Lobby Reform bill that should be targeted at Congress, not at groups that bring the people’s message to Congress.”
The original author of the language, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Committee Chair Susan Collins (R- ME) backed away from the grassroots constraints in the bill, but the Lieberman (D-CT) and Levin (D-MI) amendment to regulate grassroots activities passed 10-6.
All seven committee Democrats voted for it (Lieberman, Levin, Akaka (HI), Carper (DE), Dayton (MN), Lautenberg (NJ), and Pryor (AR); as did Republicans Stevens (AK), Voinovich (OH), and Chafee (RI). Voting “no” were Republicans Coleman (MN), Coburn (OK), Bennett (UT), Domenici (NM), and Warner (VA), in addition to Collins.
“The bill will proceed to the floor for a vote next week, and the 50-plus members of the LobbySense coalition will continue to be active and vocal against these restrictions. We will encourage Congress to focus instead on real solutions to actual problems — increased transparency for Congress, enhanced and enforced criminal statues for lawbreakers, and restraints on the spending that caused the corruption in the first place,’ Houston
The complete Amendment and a summary is available at


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