This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) that prohibited federal agencies from requiring a company seeking a federal contract to disclose political contributions as a condition of being considered for that contract. This amendment was offered to legislation authorizing annual funding for Defense Department programs.
President Obama had been considering issuing an executive order that would require companies to disclose campaign donations as a condition for receiving government contracts. Republicans strongly opposed such a regulation, and this amendment sought to preemptively block its implementation.
Cole urged support for his amendment: “…Last month a draft Executive order was circulated that would require companies to disclose all federal campaign contributions as a condition for submitting a bid on a federal contract. If implemented, this Executive order would effectively politicize the federal procurement process. Companies and their bids would run the risk of being judged on the basis of politics as opposed to their professional capabilities. The danger of that is obvious. It's never a good idea to mix politics and contracting. My amendment would prevent the President from implementing his proposed disclosure requirements.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) opposed the amendment: “The amendment is nothing more than a legislative attempt to circumvent a draft executive order, which would provide for increased disclosure of political contributions of government contractors. The draft executive order being developed by the Obama administration would require federal contractors to disclose more information about their political contributions than they currently provide, particularly those contributions given to third-party entities.” He also argued: “I think we have to guard our democracy, and one of the best ways to guard it is through disclosure. If folks aren't doing anything, there's nothing to be afraid of. So why do we want to hide? We need a transparent democracy. That's what this is all about: transparency.”
The House agreed to this amendment by a vote of 261-163. Voting “yea” were 225 Republicans and 26 Democrats. 162 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—and 1 Republican voted “nay.” As a result, the House agreed to an amendment that prohibited federal agencies from requiring a company seeking a federal contract to disclose political contributions as a condition of being considered for that contract.