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Harry Reid says amending the Constitution to regulate political speech is really about 'restoring freedom of speech

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., speaks to reporters following a Democratic luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) argued Monday that the Democratic effort to amend the Constitution so Congress can impose limits on political spending by companies is really about "restoring freedom of speech for everyone in America."

Reid, on his first day back in the Senate after a five week recess, said the Democratic proposal is aimed at reversing two Supreme Court decisions, which said the government has no authority to limit certain political communications from companies, or to limit aggregate spending on campaigns by individuals.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., speaks to reporters following a Democratic luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) AP Photo/Susan Walsh Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday that the Democratic effort to restrict political speech is really an effort to restore freedom of speech. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Republicans have largely praised those decisions as proof that the First Amendment to the Constitution is still working to limit the government's authority over political speech, and that giving money or spending money on candidates or issues is a form of protected speech.

But Democrats have said the Supreme Court's decisions give corporations more power over campaigns than ordinary people, and that Congress must be able to put limits on certain spending. Using that logic, Reid said limiting the speech of companies is a way to restore free speech rights for everyone else.

"Their constitutional amendment is about restoring freedom of speech for everyone in America, whether you're a billionaire, a millionaire, upper middle class, middle class, lower middle class, poor, homeless," Reid said of the Democratic proposal.

As he's done for the last several weeks, Reid accused the Koch brothers for pumping millions of dollars into campaign ads as the mid-term elections approach, and said that kind of spending needs to be controlled by Congress.

"They are trying to buy America, at every level of government," he said. "Why? Because they want to make more money."

Reid added that the "dark money" coming from the Kochs is "threatening to tear apart the fabric of American democracy."

Monday evening, the Senate will hold a procedural vote on the Democratic proposal to amend the Constitution. Republicans are expected to block that vote, which they can do because a super-majority will be needed to advance the Democratic proposal.

Reid even complained about this right of Republicans during his floor speech, and asked why everything in the Senate had to be a super-majority.

Reid has already invoked the "nuclear option," which now lets the Senate advance judicial nominees without a super-majority procedural vote. Republicans have said that move did significant and historical damage to the Senate, although Reid on Monday argued that if the Founding Fathers are upset with anyone, it's with Republicans.

"The founding fathers must be turning over in their graves," he said. "They must be looking down at this, and saying, 'what in the world are they doing to our country?' "

One last thing…
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