Reintroducing McCain-Feingold

now McCain-Feingold-Cochran S.27

During the 106th session, the opponents of reform kept the Senate from having a full debate on campaign finance reform in October 1999. They clearly had a majority to pass the bill, but the anti-reform minority again filibustered and prevented a vote on final passage on the narrowly-tailored soft money ban. They support a weaker bill which which accomplishes nothing. It allows legalized bribery to continue in our political system and corrupt our elected officials. Last fall, Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) introduced an anti-reform bill that would allow wealthy individuals to give more to candidates, campaigns and political parties. In addition, the bill would do nothing to stop unlimited and unregulated contributions to state political parties. The Hagel bill-S.1816 would put more power in the hands of wealthy individuals and moneyed special interests by tripling all the limits on individual hard money contributions and would weaken current campaign finance law. S. 1816 is fatally flawed and fails to effectively address the dangerous soft money problems it purports to solve.

As in previous years, the bill will propose a ban on unlimited, unregulated "soft money" donations to political parties by corporations, unions and wealthy individuals. It will also revive a provision, dropped last year to minimize objections, that would put some constraints on issue-advocacy ads that target specific candidates just before elections. In addition, it would strengthen disclosure requirements, tighten rules against foreign contributions and codify the Supreme Court "Beck" ruling, requiring unions to seek permission of non-members before any fees they must pay under collective bargaining agreements can be used for political purposes.

But it does not include an increase in the $1,000 limit for direct contributions to candidates or a provision (called "paycheck protection" by its advocates) that would require permission from union members, as well as non-members, before their dues can be spent on politics, because this was resolved in Communication Workers of America v. Beck, in the Supreme Court. The "paycheck protection" promoted by President Bush, is an anti-labor measure that is simply aimed at driving Democrats away and killing the bill. See the myths of "paycheck protection". These are among provisions favored by Bush and GOP leaders but opposed by Democrats. Bush supports a soft-money ban for unions and corporations but not individuals.

Senator McCain is negotiating with Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) about scheduling. Lott wants the bill broadened to include other election-related matters, including changes in voting procedures and other issues  that will delay action and add controversies.  This is not relative to getting Campaign Finance Reform, and should not be attached to this bill. At a briefing for reporters last week, Lott also said the bill should include the "paycheck protection" provision and restrictions on how much wealthy candidates can spend on their own campaigns.
George W. Bush's plan for Campaign Finance Reform
The facts about Senator Hagel's alternative proposal
How Money in Politics Affects you.

Questions and Answers about Reform

House counterpart H.R.380

Momentum on campaign finance reform is building. Key issues of the McCain-Feingold-Cochran bill.


McCain-Feingold was introduced January 22. With your help campaign finance reform is closer than ever to passing, but we must act now. Your participation is urgently needed in order to bring the bill to debate and make real campaign finance reform a reality.

Write to your senators, use this letter as a guide, put it into your own words - talk about how soft money hurts you or your organization. Fax your letter

Sample Letter


The Honorable (Your Senator's Name)
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator (Last Name):

As your constituent, I am writing to express my strong support for the bipartisan campaign finance reform legislation that has been introduced this session by Senators John McCain and Russell Feingold . I urge you to vote for S.27. In addition, I strongly urge you to vote against any proposal that includes an increase in the individual or aggregate contribution limits.  I am aware of Senator Hagel's anti-reform bill that would increase all hard money contribution limits. The current $1000 limit is already too high. I don't know anyone who can give $1000 to a candidate, much less $3000. It also contains a provision on issue advertising that would not deal effectively with the problem of phony issue ads using secret money to oppose or elect candidates.

The McCain-Feingold legislation would ban "soft money," which has become a means for corporations, unions and individuals to skirt around federal limitations on campaign contributions. In this past election cycle alone the two major political parties collected an amazing $487 million, a doubling over the same period in 1995-1996.

I ask that you please take the courageous step and join the growing list of bipartisan supporters. Please don't let yours be the vote that stands in the way of a debate on real campaign finance reform and the McCain-Feingold bill. Please let me know where you stand on this important and historic vote. Thanks for your consideration.

Your Name
Your Address

Follow up on your Senators vote. Roll Call votes on this bill can be seen at

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