Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., speaks to the press about new campaign finance bills. Photo by Will Hicks/MNS

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., speaks to the press about new campaign finance bills. (Will Hicks/MNS)

WASHINGTON — A group of Democratic lawmakers and one outspoken independent pressed Wednesday for action on a comprehensive package of campaign finance reform legislation.

Their “reforms” include the Democracy for All Amendment, a change in the Constitution that would allow Congress to set reasonable limits on campaign donations and spending, and also the DISCLOSE Act, a bill that would expand disclosure requirements for campaign donations.

“Our founders never intended for billionaires to be able to influence elections by writing checks with no limits,” Sen Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said. “The American people are fed up.”

To back up this claim, the lawmakers cited 5 million petition signatures calling on Congress to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling. In that opinion, the court said contributions to campaigns amount to speech and are thus protected under the First Amendment.

This push toward campaign finance reform falls on the five year anniversary of Citizens United, but pieces of the legislation have been introduced in previous years and failed. With a Republican controlled House and Senate, the fight to get these bills passed will be even more difficult this year.

“This isn’t a Democrat or Republican issue with the public,” Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., said. “This is getting the money out of politics and getting this under control.”

Not everyone agrees with this-hands on approach to lessening the influence of money in politics. Mark Thornton, senior fellow at the libertarian-leaning Mises Institute, believes the size and scope of government spending attracts corporations and interest groups to lobby for government influence.

“The real solution is for government to not be that important, so people are not interested in spending money to influence political outcomes,” Thornton said.

He conceded that undisclosed campaign donations are a problem. But he said finding information about donors should be left to the media and non-governmental organizations.

Despite the slim chance of these bills passing, the legislators feel that shining more light on the issue will convince the American people to take action. In a political climate where outside election spending tripled between the 2008 and 2012 elections, the free-spending repercussions of Citizens United are hard for critics to ignore.

“The damage done by Citizens United and related decisions can only be undone by a more favorable Supreme Court or a constitutional amendment,” Rep. David Price, D-N.C., said. “But Congress can and should make progress on targeted reforms in the meantime.”