The 2016 election could be the last presidential campaign cycle where federal law imposed a $2,700 individual donor limit to candidates, if Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., get their way.
In the final weeks before the 114th Congress closed out its 2016 session, the conservative duo introduced legislation they say would eliminate the relevance of “super PACs.” The bill has yet to see debate or get a vote. Their offices said Cruz and Meadows would reintroduce the legislation in 2017 for the upcoming session.
Cruz and Meadows’ “SuperPAC Elimination Act of 2017” would remove the ceiling of campaign giving for individuals who donate to candidates. Meadows, who is from Cashiers, North Carolina, pitched the bill as a way to “level the playing field” for average Americans in elections.
“I am pleased to join my friend Sen. Cruz in a fight that I believe is critical for all Americans – the fight to ensure that individual citizens have an adequate say in our political process,” Meadows said in a news statement.
$615 million Campaign money raised by super PACs for presidential contenders in 2016
Super PACs may accept unlimited amounts of money from companies, individual donors and unions but are prohibited from directly coordinating with political parties or those running for office. Although the title suggests “super PACs” would be eliminated, the Cruz-Meadows campaign finance legislation would not outright ban outside political action committees.
Instead, Cruz and Meadows say that by abolishing the individual donor limit, there would be no need for the independent political action committees, which, historically, have played a huge role in campaign advertising and influencing voters. In the 2016 presidential cycle, for example, super PACs raised $615 million in support of candidates running for president, according to OpenSecrets.org, a watchdog website run by the Center for Responsive Politics.
The Cruz-Meadows legislation would remove direct contribution caps to candidates and also would require campaigns to report to the Federal Election Commission any donations of more than $200 within 24 hours of receiving them. The latter requirement, according to Cruz and Meadows, adds more transparency to campaign finance.
Cruz introduced effectively the same legislation in the Senate in June 2014. That bill, with the same title, never made it out of committee.