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Campaign Finance Reform to Get a Vote in the House

Sparked in part by the Enron debacle, supporters of the Shays-Meehan campaign finance reform bill (H.R. 2356) yesterday gained enough support to bring the measure to a vote on the House floor.

Representatives Thomas Petri (R-WI), Charles Bass (R-NH), Corrine Brown (D-FL) and Richard Neal (D-MA) added their names to the discharge petition bringing the number of signatures to the necessary 218 to force a vote.

Last year, the Senate passed the nearly identical McCain-Feingold bill, but its House companion, Shays-Meehan, died on the floor. After making several changes to the legislation in the final days and hours leading up to the scheduled debate — ostensibly to court votes -- supporters failed to get the necessary votes for passage and defeated the rule that would have required thorough debate on each provision of the revised bill.

With the addition of yesterday’s signatories, proponents of Shays-Meehan will now get their vote, under their terms. While the successful discharge petition does not necessarily mean the measure will pass on the floor, it provides a boost to supporters and a blow to those of us who work to preserve the individual and collective free speech rights of all Americans.

The Center will continue to vigorously oppose Shays-Meehan and all other legislation that seeks to silence political speech at times when it matters most, during elections. Yesterday’s announcement just confirms what we have said all along. No matter what happens, campaign finance reform supporters, with total disregard for the Constitution and backed by the media, will never give up. This issue will ultimately be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court, and when that time comes, the Center will be at the courthouse door.

To read the Center’s Constitutional analysis of McCain-Feingold, which also applies directly to Shays-Meehan, click here.

[Posted January 25, 2001]