Major Provisions of Federal Public Campaign Financing Legislation, 113th Congress

Congressional campaign finance reform champions have introduced three public campaign financing bills, each of which would greatly amplify the voices of small donors in federal elections. This chart compares and contrasts the major provisions of the legislation.

January 29, 2013

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H.R. 268 

Grassroots Democracy Act

(Sarbanes)

H.R. 269 

Fair Elections Now Act

(Yarmuth & Pingree)

H.R. 270

Empowering Citizens Act

(Price & Van Hollen)

Covered Offices

U.S. Senate and House of Representatives

U.S. House of Representatives

U.S. Senate and House of Representatives and President

Qualifying Requirements

House: Minimum of $50,000 in qualifying contributions between $5 and $100 from 2,000 individuals, at least half of which are residents of the candidate’s congressional district.

Senate: Minimum of $200,000 plus product of $25,000 and the number of the state’s congressional districts in qualifying contributions between $5 and $100 from a number of individuals equaling at least 2,000 plus the product of 500 and the number of the state’s congressional districts, at least half of which are state residents.

Minimum of $50,000 in qualifying contributions between $5 and $100 from a number of state residents equal to the lesser of 0.25% of the voting age population of the state or 1,500.

House: Minimum of $40,000 in qualifying contributions from at least 400 state residents, with only the first $250 of a contribution counting towards the qualification threshold.

Senate: Minimum of product of $40,000 and the number of the state’s congressional districts in qualifying contributions from a number of state residents equaling at least the product of 400 and the number of the state’s congressional districts, with only the first $250 of a contribution counting towards the qualification threshold.

President: Minimum of $25,000 from residents of each of at least 20 states, with only the first $250 counting towards the qualification threshold.

Initial Public Grant

N/A

Primary – 40% of the base amount (an amount equal to 80% of the national average of disbursements by winning House candidates in past two election cycles) for primary elections.

General – 60% of the base amount for general elections.

N/A

Matching Funds

Tier 1 – 5:1 match on donations between $5 and $100.

Tier 2 – 10:1 match on donations between $5 and $100.

5:1 match on donations of $100 or less from residents of the candidate’s state.

President – 5:1 match on donations of $250 or less.

Congressional – 5:1 match on donations of $250 or less.

Matching Fund Payment Cap

Tier 1 – 50% of the average of the 10 greatest amounts of aggregate disbursements by winning candidates during the previous election cycle.

Tier 2 – Average of the top 10 greatest amounts of aggregate disbursements by winning candidates during the previous election cycle.

300% the amount of the allocation of the initial public grant for election cycle.

President - $150 million for primary and general election.

House - $2 million per election cycle.

Senate - $10 million per election cycle.

Participation Restrictions

Tier 1 – Candidates are permitted to accept contributions greater than the matchable amount, but over 6 years the contribution limit is reduced by 80%.

Tier 2 - $100 contribution limit.

Limited to raising qualified (matchable) contributions.

Contribution limit reduced by 50% for participating candidates, to $1,250 from individual donors compared with the $2,500 from individual donors that non-participating candidates can raise.

Outside Spending

Participating candidates are eligible for an additional grant equal to the amount of qualified (matchable) contributions he/she has raised once aggregate outside spending in the race crosses a predetermined threshold.

Electioneering communications window expanded to 120 days before general election.

N/A

Spending by outside groups that is coordinated with candidates is deemed a contribution and subject to relevant limits.  Defines coordination to include: (a) formation of outside group at the suggestion, express or tacit, of candidate or agents; (b) candidates or agents assisting outside group with fundraising; (c) outside group is managed by former major employee of candidate; (d) engaging in “more than incidental communications” between campaign and outside spender about candidate’s needs or campaign activity; (e) outside group maintains professional service of any person who provides professional service campaign/candidate; (f) outside group is established or managed by or has received contribution from a member of the candidate’s immediate family.

Tax Credits and Vouchers

$25 refundable tax credit to taxpayers who make no aggregate contributions larger than $200 to a candidate or party committee.

In states selected for pilot voucher program, registered voters may designate a $50 voucher in $5 increments to federal candidates.

N/A

N/A

Miscellaneous Provisions

Non-candidate political committees and bundlers must pay annual $100 user fees.

N/A

Increases limit on coordinated activity between presidential candidate and party committee to $50 million.