Tags: Campaign | Finance | 'Reform' | Advances

Campaign Finance 'Reform' Advances

Thursday, 24 January 2002 12:00 AM

Reps. Thomas Petri, R-Wis., Charles Bass, R-N.H., Corrine Brown, D-Fla., and Richard Neal, D-Mass., put the last four signatures on the petition to reach the 218 needed and override GOP leaders' objections.

The bill, introduced by Reps. Chris Shays, R-Conn., and Marty Meehan, D-Mass., would ban unregulated "soft money" donations to political parties and closely mimics a bill passed by the Senate in April.

Supporters of the measure argue that the reliance on soft money by both parties has eroded public confidence in government and given interest groups too much control in Washington. Opponents say such a ban is an unconstitutional attack on free speech.

The signatures come just as Congress started a slate of hearings into Enron's financial collapse, a company marked by prolific donations to both parties and powerful influence inside Washington's corridors of power.

"If Enron isn't a case for campaign finance reform, then I don't know what is," said House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo.

But as Fox News Channel's Brit Hume noted Thursday night, Gephardt failed to mention that the Bush administration did not intervene for Enron despite the company's lobbying – indicating, contrary to Gephardt and his allies, that the system does work.

Nevertheless, success on the petition means that the Shays-Meehan bill will come to the House floor in the coming weeks. Spokesman for House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., predicted "a fair amendment process," as debate on the bill moves forward in proceedings limited to 11 hours over two days.

White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer signaled that President Bush might not object to a campaign finance "reform" bill that landed on his desk. "In all cases, the president is committed to having campaign finance reform enacted into law," Fleischer said. Fleischer said the president's signature would "depend" on the specific contents of the bill.

Meehan predicted a tough fight on the House floor. "When we get to the House floor, there will be poison pill amendments and sham alternatives to grapple with," he claimed.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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Reps. Thomas Petri, R-Wis., Charles Bass, R-N.H., Corrine Brown, D-Fla., and Richard Neal, D-Mass., put the last four signatures on the petition to reach the 218 needed and override GOP leaders' objections. The bill, introduced by Reps. Chris Shays, R-Conn., and Marty...
Campaign,Finance,'Reform',Advances
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2002-00-24
Thursday, 24 January 2002 12:00 AM
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