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Clinton: 'The American People Will be Watching'

Tuesday, September 23, 1997

The following is the text of the letter President Clinton sent to Senate leaders on Tuesday. This version, released by the White House, was sent to Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.)

Dear Mr. Leader:

Senators McCain and Feingold have pledged to bring their campaign reform legislation to a vote. When that happens, the American people will be watching. I encourage you to act responsibly and support passage of this long-overdue, bipartisan legislation.

This measure is of the utmost importance, and it deserves full consideration on the Senate floor. If any attempt is made to bring this bill up in a manner that would preclude sufficient time for debate, I will call on Congress to stay in session until all of the critical elements are fully considered.

There is a real need for reform. The amount raised by both political parties is doubling every four years. And as candidates are forced to spend ever greater amounts of time raising ever larger amounts of money, the people's business suffers. We have an obligation to restore the public trust.

The bipartisan measure that Senators McCain and Feingold intend to bring to the floor is balanced and effective. It addresses many of the most pressing needs for reform. It does not include every reform that I believe necessary. But it is an important first step – and it represents the only real opportunity to enact meaningful reform in this Congress. Any attempts to attach amendments that would make it unpalatable to one party or another are nothing less than attempts to defeat campaign finance reform. And a vote to filibuster this measure is nothing short of a vote to maintain the system that favors special interests over the public good. For years, the special interests and their allies have filibustered reform. But this year, the American people will hold accountable those who vote to maintain the status quo.

Despite the formidable odds, the Congress faces the best opportunity in a generation to enact campaign finance reform. Let us work together in a bipartisan spirit, as we have throughout this legislative session, to thwart special interest who seek to smother reform and deny the will of the people. I urge you to support the bipartisan efforts embodied in the McCain-Feingold proposal, permit the Senate to debate their bill, and vote to enact these needed changes to our political system.


© Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company

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