House Republican leaders, calling it "limited" and "naive," will drastically change or replace the bipartisan campaign finance reform bill President Clinton placed atop his priority list.
"It's a very narrowly limited bill which would create a lot of hope and would have very little impact on the problems as most people would perceive them, as they look at the last six months of the election," House Oversight Committee Chairman Bill Thomas said.
"Normally, what you do with a bill that's limited, naive and probably not directed to the problems people see is to write new legislation," the California Republican said.
The GOP leaders, however, acknowledged yesterday that they are far from proposing an alternative to the bill, sponsored by Sens. John McCain, Arizona Republican, and Russell D. Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat.
Joining Mr. McCain and Mr. Feingold at a White House session with Mr. Clinton were sponsors of a House companion bill, Reps. Christopher Shays, Connecticut Republican, and Martin T. Meehan, Massachusetts Democrat.
House and Senate Republican leaders, however, are not ready to move as fast as Mr. Clinton.
"We haven't gotten to the point of sitting down with our members on this and a host of other issues," said Rep. Bill Paxon, New York Republican. "We're just getting started."
In his first news conference since being reprimanded by the House for ethics violations, Speaker Newt Gingrich declined yesterday to call such reform a legislative priority.
"It is something we really want to deal with," he told reporters. "We think it's very important that the American people see exactly how campaigns have been run, what has been done with them and what needs to be done. …