Special Campaign Finance Reform in Black & White:
Index: 9-11 II Amendments II Liberty II In Black & White II Quote of the Week

Shays-Meehan Campaign Finance Reform Debate
House of Representatives February 13-14, 2002
"In Their Own Words . . ."

Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH)

"We are going to hear a lot tonight about a ban. . . on soft money. According to Webster's dictionary, to ban means to prohibit the use, performance or distribution of.... I would like to make it plain and clear, the bill under consideration today, H.R. 2356, the Shays-Meehan bill, does not ban soft money under any definition or under any stretch of the imagination."

Rep. George Miller (D-CA)

"I rise today in the strongest possible support of the Shays-Meehan campaign finance reform bill to ban ‘soft money.’"

Rep. David Dreier (R-CA)

"In Federalist No. 10, James Madison talked about political faction, how the opportunity for people to come together and demonstrate their interests is something that is a fact of life. In fact, he said . . . 'Faction is to governing like air is to fire.' So we have these attempts being made by some to impose extraordinarily onerous regulations on the American people, jeopardizing their opportunity to come together and pursue a political interest that they have, that a shared group has; and I believe that it is wrong."

Rep. Marty Meehan (D-MA)

"Mr. Chairman, if James Madison could see the $4 million in unregulated soft money that went from Enron to both political parties, if James Madison could see that 70 percent of the soft money from Enron since 1995 went to both political parties, if James Madison could see the $1.7 million in the last election cycle, he would be rolling over in his grave."



Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN)

"I rise in strong opposition to Shays-Meehan today, principally because of the oath of office that I took, flanked by my three small children a little over a year ago….That oath of office charged me with upholding and defending the Constitution of the United States of America. Now, the gentleman from Massachusetts quoted James Madison. James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, wrote very simple words: The Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech."

Rep. Lynn Rivers (D-MI)

"Congress can prohibit the use of corporate treasury funds and union dues money in Federal elections. Congress can limit contributions to candidates, parties and political committees. Congress can pass laws to combat actual corruption and the appearance of corruption. Congress can require disclosure of the source and size of certain kinds of spending and most contributions. Congress can regulate coordinated expenditures that thwart attempts to circumvent existing election law…. The Supreme Court has spoken on this issue. Shays-Meehan does no more than what the Supreme Court has already endorsed as tools for Congress to use. The Shays-Meehan bill is constitutional, and it is absolutely needed."

Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX)

"Political speech is the key to political freedom, and Shays-Meehan would radically weaken our first amendment right by inappropriately and unwisely constraining the right to political speech. Shays-Meehan denies Americans, denies American citizens their fundamental right to criticize politicians for 2 months before the election."

Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN)

"Money is not speech. We need to stand up for the first amendment and treat these groups and these people playing politics in elections the same as the candidates themselves. That is the underlying message, and that is what this legislation actually does. They can talk until they are blue in the face or wrap themselves in the first amendment all they want to. This bill is fair to everyone, and we need to consider it and pass it today."

Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO)

"I do believe . . . that we need to realize that we have a very important constitutional responsibility here, and that is to go through the process of lawmaking. The way it works is the United States House of Representatives passes a bill, the United States Senate passes a bill; they go to a House-Senate conference to make sure that they can reconcile those differences. We have a bicameral legislature. The Senate has already passed this measure. The House should work its will, not marching in lockstep."

Rep. Marty Meehan (D-MA)

". . . the other side that is trying to kill this bill does not have a philosophical perspective. They do not have a set of principles that are determining what amendments they offer. What they offer is anything they can think of to defeat this bill, anything that they can think of to send this bill to conference."

Rep. Richard Armey (R-TX)

"Let me state at the outset: I am not now, never have been nor ever will be corrupted by contributions to my campaign in soft or hard money and I do not believe any of my colleagues have now, ever have been or ever will be corrupted by it."

"If you want to end soft money now, Now, vote for the Armey substitute…if, in fact you have the courage of your convictions and you want to put your money where your mouth is -- your soft money where your soft-spoken mouth is -- vote for Armey."

Rep. Harold Ford, Jr. (D-TN)

"…We are addicted to this money…We love the golf tournaments, the concerts, the traveling; all the wonderful things this soft money allows us to do in this Congress."

Rep. John Linder (R-GA)

"The debate here today is not about my language, it is about my principles. And while I support campaign finance reform, principle prevents me from supporting Shays-Meehan. All Americans deserve a voice in the political process, and we need campaign finance reform to ensure that all voices are heard. Yet Shays-Meehan silences some voices altogether, while amplifying others."

"In 12 simple pages, this bill (Armey-Linder) bans every dollar of unregulated, unaccountable, undisclosed money that can be Constitutionally eliminated from federal politics."

Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX)

"Trying to call million dollar contributions free speech gives new meaning to the phrase ‘money talks.’ And Americans know that in Washington, D.C., money is talking too loudly…Vote for Shays-Meehan and oppose all Trojan horse substitutes."

Rep. Richard Armey (R-TX)

"…I will not yield…"


Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT)

"…I will not yield…"

Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ)

"It was our second President, John Adams, who pointed out ‘facts are stubborn things’…Why would we set up a new loophole to really have a type of legalized money laundering?…Certainly not for partisan advantage for my high-minded friends on the left or my well-meaning friends on the right. But, yet, at the end of the day, can you deny it?"

Rep. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

"I find myself in the distinct minority in my Party…We need to ban soft money…we need to do it now, J.D., we really do…But I’m going to vote for Shays-Meehan…I think America needs to change the way we conduct our campaigns and I’m willing to pay a price by making my friends mad at me."

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA)

"…This is not a ban on soft money, this is a make believe bill."

Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY)

"I say we … pass Shays-Meehan and bring real campaign finance reform to the people of this so-deserving country."

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)

"If you wonder why the big media corporations support this legislation it is because they will be the only one ones standing after this is passed."

Rep. Robert Borski (D-PA)

"Shays-Meehan would ensure that everyone involved in influencing elections plays by the same rules."

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA)

"It’s (Shays-Meehan) the analogy of pushing food around on your plate to make Mama think you ate your vegetables…"

Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY)

"Talk about cooking something up at the last minute, my understanding is our side of the aisle only got notice of this substitute at 1 a.m. this morning."

Rep. Richard Armey (R-TX)

"If you don’t want to end soft money now, then quit talking about it!"

Rep. Tom Allen (D-ME)

"If this government is to remain a government of the people, by the people and for the people, we must take soft money out of this campaign finance system."

Armey Amendment #28, introduced by Sam Johnson (R-TX)
Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX)

"As a 29-year veteran and prisoner of war who had my freedom stripped away…I am appalled that anyone would try to take away the rights of any American, especially those who put their lives in harm’s way to defend our Constitution and this nation."

"Veterans understand that freedom’s not free…Is there anyone who would deny a veteran’s right to be heard? They are going to protect our rights and we need to protect their rights to free speech."

Armey Amendment #28, introduced by Sam Johnson (R-TX)

Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT)

"His (Mr. Johnson’s) amendment is not needed…His veterans have all the voice they need…We allow for people to speak out. Sixty days before an election, money can be used."

"Veterans can pool their resources to advertise, they just can’t do it with corporate treasury money and union dues money."

Armey Amendment # 20, 30, 40,50 introduced by Larry Combest (R-TX)
Rep. Larry Combest (R-TX)

"I’m offering the amendment which would ensure that nothing in H.R. 2356 would restrict workers, farmers or their families from communicating their views and needs to their elected leaders and the public. I believe Shays-Meehan contains unfair restriction on the rights of citizens, either individually or collectively to communicate with their elected representatives and to the general public. Such restrictions would stifle and suppress individuals and groups activity and advocacy pertaining to publican government."

"One of the most effective ways for citizens to communicate is to pool their voices and resources with like-minded individuals who many times would not be heard if not for this ability."

ey Amendment # 20, 30, 40,50 introduced by Larry Combest (R-TX)

Rep. Marty Meehan (D-MA)

"You know, as I sit back and think about it, the workers, the farmers and the families are the reason why we need to pass this bill. The workers, the farmers and the families without these big multi-national soft money PACs, soft money operations are the reason why we need to pass campaign finance reform."

"It’s an amendment designed to destroy the sham issue ads provision of the Shays-Meehan bill which, in fact, would exempt any possible advertisements paid for with soft money from these provision by purporting to create a targeted exception. It would blow a hole in the sham issue advocacy provision in this bill by allowing unlimited soft money to be spent on any ads that mention an individual."

Armey Amendment # 31 introduced by J.C. Watts

Rep. J.C. Watts (R-OK)

". . .This amendment is pretty simple. It states that no restrictions in the Shays-Meehan bill can ban statements, actions or positions of a candidate pertaining to civil rights and other issues affecting minorities."

"The 34 million Americans of African descent, 35 million Hispanics and Latinos, 10 million Asian Americans, and 2 million American Indians deserve the right to free speech as enshrined in the first Amendment to the United States Constitution. These important constituencies have interests that are unique and special. They should not be gagged in the name of reform."


Armey Amendment # 31 introduced by J.Cllllll. Watts

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD)

"I tell my friend from Oklahoma that this is not about whether we are for or against civil rights. I take a backseat to no one in this institution in support of civil rights and human rights, here and around the world. This is about making some speech more protected than other speech. The first Amendment does not say that."

Wamp Amendment
Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN)

"This amendment simply raises the $1,000 limit for individual contributions to House candidates to $2,000 which is the same as the Senate-passed bill sets for Senators...I do not think it’s appropriate for the Senate to have a different level on individual contribution limits than House candidates."

"In 1974 this $1,000 was established and individuals had that much influence in the process at that time. Now the value of $1,000 in 1974 was a lot greater than the value of $1,000 in 2002. The fact is this, individuals have less influence today than they had then just because the value of their participation has been reduced."

Wamp Amendment
Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas)

"Only 1/9 of one percent of Americans currently give $1,000. And the whole purpose of this amendment is to allow that elite group to give even more and distort the election process. If we succeed in taking a ban on soft money on the one hand, but we are going to increase the amount of hard money on the other hand, we will have simply taken from one and given to the other and traded Tweedle Dee for Tweedle Dum."

Armey Amendment # 23, 33, 43, 53 introduces by Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO)
Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO)

"The fact of the matter is that the flood of soft money from both sides drowns out the only voices which are important, those are the voices of the American people. The only way to allow the voices of the American people to be heard is to totally ban all soft money."

Armey Amendment # 23, 33, 43, 53 introduces by Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO)
Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI)

"What this [bill] does is not open the floodgates, it makes sure there is no floodgate. Instead there is a channel for grassroots activity, indeed, for the people to be heard."

Armey Amendment # 24, 34, 44, 54 introduced by Roger Wicker (R-MS)
Rep. Roger Wicker (R-MS)

"This simple amendment closes a loophole in the current campaign finance system which allows foreign interests to influence United States elections. It requires that contributions to federal candidates be made by either U.S. citizens or American Nationals."

Armey Amendment # 24, 34, 44, 54 introduced by Roger Wicker (R-MS)
Rep. Patsy Mink (D-HI)

"The Constitution was written by wonderful people who made no distinction whatsoever in guaranteeing the rights and privileges of this country when they wrote the word ‘persons’. They didn’t say citizens, they said persons.…How can we deny legal residents the right to care about what is happening in this country? We need to keep them in the political process."

Armey Amendment #19, 29, 39, 49 introduced by Thomas Reynolds (R-NY)
Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY)

"Throughout this day, I’ve listened to many of colleagues rail against the evils of soft money, that’s why it’s time to ensure the rhetoric matches the reality and I’m doing just that by introducing an amendment that reverses a slick attempt to manipulate existing law that will end soft money now, rather than after election day."

"If we’re going to end soft money, then let’s end it once and for all, let’s end it now, not months from now when it’s more politically convenient. If we’re going to stop using soft money in campaigns then let’s make sure it’s stopped in every campaign. Without this amendment, the supporters of Shays-Meehan are saying that while soft money is bad, it’s not bad enough to ban right here, right now. There’s a word for that, Mr. Chairman. And it’s hypocrisy. "

Armey Amendment #19, 29, 39, 49 introduced by Thomas Reynolds (R-NY)
Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA)

"It is simply not logically possible to argue that you’re for this bill and are going to vote to have it go into effect three weeks before primaries which have been conducted heretofore under the old rules. That’s just not arguable."

"To have someone call me a hypocrite is like being called silly by the Three Stooges. It simply does not make sense."