House Balks at Financing Inquiry of Campaign Fund-Raising Abuse

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The House has temporarily thwarted funding for its investigation into allegations of campaign fund-raising abuses.

And FBI Director Louis Freeh confirmed that a grand jury is investigating whether a foreign country tried to influence last year's elections.

The 213-210 procedural vote Thursday prevented the House from taking up the Government Reform and Oversight Committee's proposed investigation budget of $3.8 million. Eleven GOP members who objected to raising overall spending on House committees by $22 million joined Democrats in blocking the vote. But the rebellion was quelled at an evening caucus, when Republicans agreed on a plan to clear the way for a vote today to finance the inquiry, House Speaker Newt Gingrich said. Under the plan, the campaign finance investigation would get its money while spending for other House committees would be frozen for 30 days, said freshman Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., one of the original defectors. The House would vote next month on the funding for the other committees. Salmon cited frustration with plans by Gingrich to postpone action on tax cuts until a balanced budget agreement was reached with Democrats as an "underlying problem with virtually all of the 11" Republicans who voted no Thursday. The procedural vote in the House forced a delay in action on a $178 million spending measure to finance the work of 19 House committees. Before the compromise was reached, the vote was the second setback for congressional Republicans seeking to begin investigations into allegations of campaign fund-raising abuses last year. …