Campaign reform again

April 20, 1999

This is an excerpt of a New York Times editorial that was published yesterday:

THE fight over campaign finance reform has now begun in earnest. By the close of business Friday, 189 Democrats in the House had signed a petition to force a floor vote on legislation that would outlaw the unlimited, unregulated donations to political parties that are known as soft money.

The petition strategy has been forced by the resolute refusal of the House speaker, Dennis Hastert, to move quickly on the bill and thus leave enough time to rally support in the Senate before the campaign season begins next year -- and hundreds of millions of dollars from special interests start polluting the system all over again. Because the petition needs 218 signatures to succeed, and there are only 211 Democrats, the Republicans will have to help.

Where are those Republicans? For the most part, they are cowering in silent obedience to Mr. Hastert's plea for party loyalty, which in this case means acquiescing in his strategy for delay.

Quick action by the House could give reformers time to organize a pressure campaign in the Senate. It could also greatly enhance the prospects for fundamental reforms that the public has been demanding for years.

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