The legislation is being developed in response to a U.S. Supreme Court decision in January that determined the government can't ban corporations from spending in political campaigns.
Among other things, the proposed legislation would force private companies and groups to reveal financial involvement in political campaigns and advertising that normally is out of public view, as well as require the head of a company or group that the main backer of a campaign advertisement to appear personally in the spot to acknowledge sponsorship, The New York Times reported.
Leading the effort in the U.S. Senate is Charles Schumer of New York. Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland spearheads the House effort. Officials said they were trying to get a Republican in each chamber to sign on as a co-sponsor, but indicated they would proceed even without bipartisan sponsorship, possibly revealing the bill's contents as soon as this week.
"What we're trying to do first is make sure everything we do is within the constitutional mandate set by the court," Schumer told the Times. "And second, we're trying to make it a bill that can get broad bipartisan support."
Lawyers for the administration and congressional Democrats said a review of the opinion indicated an outright ban of corporate dollars likely wasn't possible, so the legislation is focusing on public disclosure of political backers to bring about transparency and possibly discourage excessive corporate contributions, officials said.
"What we've been trying to do," one congressional official who has worked on the plan told the Times, "is to set up a really robust disclosure mechanism."