Two Senators debate the McCain-Feingold Bill on the NewsHour
The Federal Elections Commission provides information on federal and state finance laws
This week the Senate debated and then defeated a bill that could have changed the way campaigns are run and financed. The bill would have limited fundraising and spending, and supporters say it would have leveled the playing field for incumbents and their challengers.
The legislation, the McCain-Feingold Bill, set up a voluntary system that limits campaign spending based on the voting age population in a candidate's state, require candidates to raise at least 60% of campaign funds within the state, and limit the amount of a candidate's personal funds spent on a campaign. Under the guidelines, taxpayer-funded mass mailings by incumbents would be banned during an election year. The bill also placed new limits on soft money contributions to political parties, ended the practice of "bundling" contributions by special interest groups, and outlawed Political Action Committee (PAC) contributions.
The payoff for participating was 30 minutes of free TV air time, reduced television advertising rates, and lower mailing rates.
Opponents to the bill threatened to filibuster the McCain-Feingold legislation. In a last attempt to bring the bill to a vote, supporters attempted to invoke cloture, a parliamentary move to end a filibuster. The cloture vote fell six votes short of the 60 required and so campaign finance reformers will have to wait for the 105th Congress to try and change the system.
What do you think? Does the bill go far enough? What can we do to make politicians accountable to the people rather than big-moneyed interests?
- The history of campaign finance reform
- How campaign finance reform is handled in other countries
- The power of political action committees (PACs) and if, and how, that power should be regulated.
- The courts' role in campaign finance reform
- Speaker Gingrich's comment that there is too little money in the system, and
- What Senator Bill Bradley plans to do about campaign finance reform after leaving the Senate.
Click here for a forum menu.