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President Joe Biden

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- President Joe Biden spoke on Tuesday afternoon about a bill that would require super PACs and certain other groups to disclose donors who contributed $10,000 or more during an election cycle, a measure doomed to fail due to lack of Republican support.

“Ultimately this comes down to public trust. Dark money erodes public trust. We need to protect public trust and I’m determined to do that,” the president said.

The bill is slated for a Senate vote this week, top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said on Monday, as Democrats seek to boost election transparency ahead of the November midterms after failing to pass more ambitious voting rights legislation earlier this year.

The vote does not have the support of 60 senators necessary to overcome the Senate's vote threshold for ending debate.

Republicans, including Texas senator Ted Cruz, have argued that companies have the right to express themselves through anonymous donations. Democrats say such 'dark money' donations have warped the political system, resulting in laws that do not reflect the majority of Americans' views.

"There is no justification under heaven for keeping such massive contributions hidden from the public," Schumer said.

The measure, known as the DISCLOSE Act, was initially included in Democrats' voting rights bill that sought to counteract voting restrictions in Republican-led states. That package passed the House in January but died in the Senate under Republican opposition.

Proponents of the restrictive state measures said they were necessary to counter fraud. Republican former President Donald Trump has falsely claimed that widespread voter fraud led to his 2020 election defeat.

Democrats have accused Republicans at the state level of enacting policies to make it harder for racial minorities who tend to support Democratic candidates to cast ballots.

"In state after state, Republican state legislatures are engaged in an unprecedented effort to suppress the sacred right to vote and subvert the American bedrock of free and fair elections," Biden said when Senate Republicans voted to block the broader voting rights effort in January.

Republicans in turn accuse Democrats of attempting a federal takeover of election laws.

The DISCLOSE ACT, if approved, would also require groups spending money on judicial nominees to disclose their donors.

The House of Representatives is separately considering a proposal by Republican Liz Cheney and Democrat Zoe Lofgren clarifying a 135-year-old law to show that the vice president's role in certifying elections is purely symbolic.

The proposal is a response to the January 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters, who were trying to stop certification of Joe Biden's victory, and to pressure from Trump himself on Vice President Mike Pence to overturn Joe Biden's election win by decertifying certain slates of electors.

Biden is scheduled to make the remarks at 1:45 p.m. in the Roosevelt Room of the White House before heading to New York to participate in the United Nations General Assembly this week.

(Reporting by Alexandra Alper and Moira Warbuton; editing by Heather Timmons, Edmund Klamann and Bill Berkrot)


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