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Senate Campaign Reform Supporters Call for Action - 2002-02-15

U.S. Senate supporters of election campaign finance reform, say action Wednesday in the House of Representatives has raised hopes they too can pass significant reform legislation soon. The House early Wednesday approved the most sweeping campaign finance reform bill in a generation.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, a Democrat from South Dakota, is urging Republican House leaders to send the campaign finance bill to his chamber soon.

Despite significant Republican opposition, the bill passed the House in the early hours of Wednesday following a nearly 17 hour debate.

Supporters succeeded in defeating a dozen amendments aimed at sidetracking or killing the legislation.

The bill would ban unregulated donations to national political parties. Such contributions, from unions, corporations and individuals, grew from $86 million in the 1992 election to $500 million in the 2000 election.

The measure would also restrict broadcast attack advertisements, two months before an election.

Opponents say the bill would weaken national parties and would violate free speech guarantees under the Constitution.

Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, who sponsored similar legislation in the Senate, called on his Republican colleagues in the chamber to end their opposition. "Let's move forward working together because that is what the American people want us to do, and I know that we can," he said.

At the White House, spokesman Ari Fleischer indicated President Bush has mixed reaction to the legislation. He suggested the President likes certain provisions of the bill but not others. But he said Mr. Bush would sign a bill that improves the system.

Campaign finance reform gathered new support with the collapse of the Enron Corporation, which donated generously to both Republican and Democratic politicians.

Passage of the bill would represent the broadest change to fundraising laws since contribution limits were first imposed in the mid-1970's after the Watergate scandal.