In her analysis of the Senate's recent debate on campaign finance reform, Elizabeth Drew [op-ed, Oct. 22] alleged that "Democrats, too, joined in the kill" by offering both the McCain-Feingold proposal and the broader Shays-Meehan plan passed by the House. She said that this strategy prevented other senators from offering amendments that might have improved the chances of campaign finance reform passing the Senate.

That is untrue. At a press conference after we offered the alternative plans, the Democratic sponsor of the bill, Sen. Russ Feingold said, "This bill is freely amendable. It's an absolutely bogus argument by Sen. [Mitch] McConnell that you can't amend this thing." Sen. Paul Wellstone did offer an amendment to the bill, and any other senator could have done so at anytime.

The reason we offered the slimmed- down McCain-Feingold and the Shays-Meehan plans was to enable us to get test votes on reform. If either proposal had been adopted by the 60-vote margin required, that would have shown we had the votes to pass either the narrower or more comprehensive bill over a Republican filibuster. If the proposals were not adopted, the underlying bill would have been open to amendment, allowing further consideration of the issue.

The record is clear: All Democrats supported both proposals, and the majority of the Republican senators opposed them. Moreover, although the bill was open to amendment even after the two votes failed, Sen. Trent Lott decided he did not want to spend any more time on this issue and moved on to other business--thereby killing campaign finance reform.


U.S. Senator (D-S.D.)