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Lott Blocks Action on Campaign Finance Reform (Washington Post, Feb. 25)

Campaign Fund Bill Is Doomed, GOP Foes Say

By Helen Dewar
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 26, 1998; Page A12

Senate Republican foes of campaign finance legislation yesterday claimed enough "rock solid" votes to kill the bill by filibuster today, even as its proponents demonstrated for the second time that a majority of senators favors the measure.

"It's over," said Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), leading foe of the bill to ban "soft money" contributions to political parties and otherwise tighten rules to curb special-interest funding of campaigns. After votes today on ending the filibuster, "we'll move on to things people care about," he added.

"Obviously we don't have 60 votes," the number required to end the delaying tactics and force action on the bill, said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who co-sponsored the legislation with Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.). But he said votes over two days enhanced prospects for a stronger showing when the legislation is brought up again.

While GOP leaders plan to move on to other legislation, probably the ever-popular highway funding bill, Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) said Democrats plan to keep bringing the campaign finance bill up "throughout the year" in connection with other legislation. "We will pursue this and persist so long as it takes to be successful," he said.

In yesterday's action, the Senate, by a vote of 50 to 47, refused to kill a proposed amendment, advanced by Republicans Olympia J. Snowe (Maine) and James M. Jeffords (Vt.), that was aimed at striking a compromise on labor spending and last-minute attack ads by special interests.

The Snowe-Jeffords proposal would bar unions and corporations from running broadcast ads targeting individual candidates within 60 days of a general election and 30 days of a primary. Other groups could continue to run such ads so long as they disclose contributors.

Facing defeat on the proposed compromise, Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) agreed to accept the Snowe-Jeffords proposal, even though he had tried earlier to block it by offering an alternative.

But on another test vote of 50 to 48, the bill's backers failed to pick up any new votes for the legislation, even with the Snowe-Jeffords compromise attached to it.

According to McConnell, this assured "48 rock-solid votes" -- as the bill's opponents demonstrated in an initial test vote Tuesday -- to keep a filibuster going against the bill.

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post

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