Reform Agenda To Clean Up Washington
Kirsten has not been in Washington long but she's been there long enough to know that it's broken and needs to be fixed.
When she was first elected to the House in 2006, Kirsten became the first member of Congress ever to post her official daily schedule, financial disclosures and earmark requests online. As Senator, Kirsten is continuing her transparency and reform agenda. She believes that with these reforms lawmakers will be held accountable to the people and restore people's faith in government again.
1. Make Federal Funding Requests Fully Transparent
Kirsten has co-authored legislation with Republican and Democratic colleagues that would create an easily searchable earmark database.
Under this legislation, lawmakers will have to disclose the amount of their initial request, the amount approved by Committee and the amount approved in final passage. They will also need to disclose the type of organization receiving the funding, what they will use it for, and justify why they need taxpayer dollars to fund their project. If everyone in America can easily see who and what their lawmakers are requesting taxpayer money for, we can keep elected officials honest, end the days of political, special interest favors, and reduce wasteful spending.
This bipartisan legislation has been co-sponsored by 24 members of the Senate and 28 reform organizations, including The Sunlight Foundation, Center for Responsive Politics, the Liberty Coalition, and the Project on Government Oversight.
2. Reduce Corporate Special Interest Influence on Elections
Kirsten believes we must get wealthy, corporate special interest influence out of our elections. Even in the age of McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform, corporate special interests have spent over a billion dollars to influence our elections. They spend millions on nasty, negative advertising that poisons our election process, disenfranchises voters, and overly influences politicians. Politicians must be accountable to their constituents, not corporate campaign contributors.
The Citizens United Supreme Court decision last year, which gave private corporations unprecedented power to spend limitless amounts of money to buy elections, was a setback in this fight but Kirsten is committed to doing what she can to limit corporate influence in our elections. That's why she is an original cosponsor of the DISCLOSE Act – legislation that would reverse the Citizens United decision and require corporations to stand by their political actions the same way candidates do.
• If a corporation wants to run an advertisement during a political campaign, the CEO would have to appear at the end of the ad and approve the message.
• If an advocacy organization is behind the ad, the head of the organization, and whoever is funding the ad would have to appear in the ad and approve it. They would also have to list the top five funders paying for the ad.
• Foreign-owned companies would be banned from spending unlimited sums of money through their U.S.-based subsidiaries.
• No company with government contracts with over $50,000 could spend money on elections, and no company taking any taxpayer-funded assistance, such as TARP money, could spend money on elections.
3. End Automatic Congressional Pay Raises
Kirsten believes we need to end automatic pay raises for members of Congress.
Hardworking, middle class workers are never guaranteed an annual pay raise, and neither should their leaders in Congress. But over the last two decades, career politicians have made out pretty well. From 1991 to 2009, Congress voted to raise its own pay 13 times, raising its annual salary by more than $70,000.
Ever since Kirsten was elected to Congress, she has opposed the automatic pay raise. As Senator, she helped pass legislation to permanently end the automatic pay raise. In addition, Kirsten recently co-signed a letter with a dozen of her Senate colleagues urging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to take up and pass that legislation in the House.
4. Ban Anonymous Holds on Legislation
Kirsten believes it's crucial to take steps toward ending the corrosive culture of obstructionism and gridlock that holds Congress back from doing its job. One way we can help solve this problem is to ban the practice of placing anonymous holds on legislation.
Republicans currently have 132 anonymous holds on President Obama’s federal court nominations, and countless more on other legislation before the U.S. Senate. These holds bring the legislative process to a screeching halt, with no way to hold the nameless obstructionist accountable.
Together, with a broad, bipartisan group of 67 of her colleagues, Kirsten has written to Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, urging them to ban the practice of anonymous holds.
In addition, to make Washington work, we're going to have to lower the deficit by cutting wasteful spending and growing the economy, not by slashing Medicare and Social Security. Seniors have spent their working lives paying into these programs and deserve all the benefits they were promised. Kirsten is working to expand Medicare by providing special assistance to seniors with chronic illnesses to help them avoid multiple hospital stays, and additional financial help to low income seniors.