Late Breaking News
|Date: July 10, 1998 1:48 pm
Contact: Common Cause
|House Resumes Consideration Of Campaign Finance Reform; Shays-Meehan Bill Continues To Gain Momentum|
|WASHINGTON - July 10 - When the U.S. House of Representatives returns
from recess on Tuesday, July 14, the pending business will be a return to consideration of
campaign finance reform.
The House will first take up an amendment designed to gut provisions of the bipartisan Shays-Meehan reform bill that deal with campaign ads masquerading as issue discussion.
This killer amendment, offered by Representatives Tom Delay (R-TX) and John Doolittle (R-CA), would permit continued evasion of the election laws by allowing unlimited and undisclosed funds to be used for campaign ads supporting or opposing candidates under the ruse that they are "issue ads."
Almost any ad that doesn't use "magic words" like "vote for" or "vote against" would fit under the DeLay-Doolittle amendment - even if in every other respect the ad was clearly a candidate ad and even if the ad were run right before the election.
The DeLay-Doolittle amendment would allow a continuation of the kinds of evasion and abuse that we saw during the 1996 campaign through the use of phony issue ads. The amendment would even allow these phony issue ads to be run in coordination with the candidate they are intended to help.
Before the House recessed on June 26, reformers won two key test votes by surprisingly large margins. The first effort to kill Shays-Meehan came on a substitute offered by Representative Rick White (R-WA) to establish a commission in order to "study" reform. The White substitute was defeated by a vote of 156 to 201, with sixty-eight other members voting "present," signaling their rejection of the White killer substitute.
The second victory for reformers came when the House rejected an amendment offered by Representatives Bill Thomas (R-CA) and Martin Frost (D-TX) to add a "non-severability" provision to Shays-Meehan. This extraordinary provision would have resulted in the invalidation of the key provisions of the bill - like the ban on soft money - even if a totally unrelated provision was found unconstitutional. The Thomas-Frost amendment was defeated by a vote of 155 to 254.
Reform supporters noted that these votes were an initial indicator of the depth of support for Shays-Meehan from Members of both parties. "The defeat of these two killer amendments was a big step forward for the Shays-Meehan bill to end the corrupt soft money system. The next big test for reform is to reject the DeLay-Doolittle killer amendment," Common Cause President Ann McBride said.
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