The Democratic-led Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday began a long-shot bid at a constitutional amendment that would limit deep-pocketed political campaign donors’ influence.

With plenty of politics but very limited prospects of actually changing the Constitution, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called the free flow of “shady money” into politics the biggest threat to democracy he’s seen. His Republican counterpart, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, called efforts to limit campaign spending a tactic to rile up Democrats this election year.

Changing the Constitution is an intentionally difficult process, and leaders from both parties acknowledge that the panel’s efforts to prohibit super PACs are likely to result in little more than election-year posturing.

“Our involvement in government should not be dependent on our bank account balances,” Reid told panel members while sitting next to McConnell in a rare joint appearance before a committee.

Reid, of Nevada, has used his post as the Senate’s top lawmaker to aggressively criticize industrialist billionaires Charles and David Koch, who have funneled tens of millions from their personal fortune to a network of conservative organizations. Democrats have bristled at the Kochs’ spending. In an apparent reference to corporate campaign spending, some audience members silently held protest signs reading: “Constitutional rights for humans only.”

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