Campaign finance reform

House speaker: Hastert must be told an immediate vote is needed on critical Shays-Meehan bill.

May 16, 1999

SEPTEMBER is too late. So is July or August, for that matter.

And if House Speaker Dennis Hastert insists on postponing a vote on campaign finance reform until then, it's up to moderate Republicans to rebel.

Anything other than a speedy vote "is a prescription to kill reform," said Ann McBride, president of Common Cause, a watchdog group. We agree.

Republicans who favor the bipartisan reform bill met recently with Mr. Hastert, who asked them not to sign a discharge petition that would send the bill to the floor of the House. Most Democrats have already done so.

The bill -- introduced by Connecticut Republican Christopher Shays and Massachusetts Democrat Martin T. Meehan -- would ban "soft money," the unregulated political contributions that have been at the heart of most recent campaign fund-raising scandals. The bill passed the House last August, but a filibuster in the Senate blocked passage of the companion bill there.

Action to put an end to soft-money abuses is too important to be allowed to drag on until right before Congress adjourns for the year or possibly into a presidential election year and near-certain death. GOP lawmakers must act.

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