The two engaged in a heated exchange regarding Mr Hawley’s proposed legislation that would roll back Citizens United v FEC, the 2010 Supreme Court decision that allowed for the proliferation of corporate campaign cash into elections.
The legislation would ban publicly-traded companies from making independent campaign expenditures, political ads or other electioneering communications. It would also ban publicly-traded companies from giving to super PACs, organisations that are allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money as long as they are not officially affiliated with a candidate.
“For decades, Corporate America has funneled billions of dollars into elections in favor of politicians who favor their woke, social agendas—instead of American voters' interests,” Mr Hawley said in a statement. “This legislation would hold mega-corporations' feet to the fire and stop their dollars from buying our elections.”
Mr McConnell, a former chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is one of the leading proponents of allowing more corporate money to flow into elections.
The Kentucky Republican contended that the “only reason” Mr Hawley won his seat in 2018 against former senator Claire McCaskill was because of money from the Senate Leadership Fund, a McConnell-affiliated super PAC that is allowed to spend unlimited amounts of campaign cash. Mr McConnell warned that any Republican who signed onto the bill would receive “heavy incoming from the right.”
Mr Hawley and Mr McConnell have clashed on a number of other issues. Most notably, Mr McConnell is one of the biggest defenders of US support for Ukraine while Mr Hawley has said that Europe should shoulder more responsibility as the US focuses more on China. In addition, Mr McConnell voted to certify the 2020 presidential election results while Mr Hawley led the efforts to object to them.