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Lott May Allow Scheduling of Campaign Bill

By Helen Dewar
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 19, 1997

Key senators worked last night toward agreement on a plan for consideration of legislation to overhaul campaign finance laws in the next few weeks.

While no final agreement was reached in negotiations involving Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), chief sponsors of the bill, McCain said he was optimistic that one could be achieved, perhaps today.

"I believe we can probably get an agreement . . . but it's still not a done deal," McCain said, emphasizing that the final decision was up to Lott, who until recently had resisted scheduling the bill until the Senate learns more from ongoing hearings into abuses from the 1996 campaign.

Several senators said the Governmental Affairs Committee, which is conducting the hearings, was discussing whether to expedite consideration of issues that will be at stake in debate over the legislation.

The bill would be a scaled-back version of an earlier McCain-Feingold proposal. It would ban unregulated "soft money," require more disclosure, and put some limits on unions' use of dues for political purposes, on independent expenditures and on out-of-pocket spending by wealthy candidates. But it would not ban political action committees (PACs) or provide free television and other incentives for compliance with voluntary spending ceilings. Such provisions could be offered as amendments, however.

McCain and Feingold have been threatening to try to attach the bill to other legislation if Lott refused to schedule it separately, assuring a controversy regardless of what Lott did. While it would be a breakthrough for McCain and Feingold if Lott agrees to take up the bill, they still face the formidable challenge of trying to get the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster.

© Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company

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