Lott Gauges Support for Union Curbs: GOP May Amend McCain-Feingold
Roman, Nancy E., The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott is counting heads in the Senate to see how many members are willing to block unions from spending members' dues on political campaigns without their permission.
If enough agree, Republicans will have a strategy for the campaign-finance bill that Democrats have hailed as essential to cleaning up dirty politics.
They simply will tack the union-dues provision onto whatever reform package is considered on the floor or some other ban on so-called "soft money."
"A lot of Republicans are saying, `Hey, maybe we can live with a ban on soft money if we can get the unions off our backs," said a senior Senate aide close to the process.
Democrats are countering with a full-court press to move their version of campaign-finance reform now. They say a bill drafted by Sens. John McCain, Arizona Republican, and Russell D. Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat, but backed primarily by Democrats, is the minimum sufficient reform.
The bill would reduce the amount that political-action committees can give to a campaign from $5,000 to $2,500, require that 60 percent of the money raised for a campaign comes from people in that district and ban soft money - the money that corporations and other groups give to national committees.
Most Republicans believe the bill would hurt them in contests for congressional seats. Mr. Lott has vowed it will not pass as written.
"Mr. Lott has said there is no chance that McCain-Feingold will pass this year. None," said Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle in a briefing with reporters yesterday. "Well, I disagree."
The South Dakota Democrat said Mr. Lott had the same attitude about raising the minimum wage, making health insurance portable and passing the disaster-relief bill without two controversial amendments. …