'Top Line' -- Congress Pressed on Publicly Funded Elections

ABC News' Rick Klein reports: A coalition of good-government groups is planning to spend more than $8 million on a new ad campaign pressing Congress to pass the Fair Elections Now Act , a bill that would set up a sweeping, optional system of public funding for federal campaigns.

The bill’s sponsors are boasting a pledge from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for a vote on the House floor this year and are hoping that current events spur the public to clamor for action on a measure designed to limit the influence of money on politics

“The American public are really concerned about the housing crisis, the investment crisis, the banking crisis, and the health care debate -- and even the oil spill in the Gulf -- that money has influenced the way in which the House and Senate has been operating,” Bob Edgar, president and CEO of Common Cause, said on ABC/Washington Post’s “Top Line” today.

“And with the Citizens' United Supreme Court decision, we think money will also be exponentially increased, and the money will taint this upcoming midterm election,” he said, referring to the court ruling that opened the door to far more corporate cash in campaigns.

“The public wants something bolder than what they're seeing right now Congress take up,” said David Donnelly, national campaigns director of the Public Campaign Action Fund. “They want to see something that really gets to the root cause of the problem, which is the amount of time that members of Congress spend raising money from wealthy interests. And frankly, members of Congress want to get off that fundraising treadmill.”

The House’s most recent move in response to the Citizens United ruling – the DISCLOSE Act – “is important, but it's inadequate,” Edgar said.

On Pelosi’s commitment to holding a House vote, Edgar said: “She was on television speaking publicly about it, and we'll hold her to her word.”

And the Senate? “Well, that's another story,” Edgar said.

Watch the “Top Line” interview with Bob Edgar and David Donnelly HERE.

For our “Post Politics” segment, we checked in with Dan Balz of The Washington Post on President Obama’s decision to bypass Congress by installing a new head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, plus the state of US-Israeli relations and the new Justice Department lawsuit against the Arizona immigration law. Watch the portion of the program with Dan Balz HERE.

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