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McCain, Lott agree 'in principle' on campaign finance reform schedule

WASHINGTON -- Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said Friday he has reached an agreement in principle with Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Mississippi, to bring up campaign finance reform legislation to the Senate floor in March.

"I think in principle we're in agreement," McCain told CNN, after meeting with Lott for 30 minutes in his office.

McCain said the amount of time and dates for debate still must be worked out by staff over the weekend.

In a separate announcement, Lott praised McCain, who made the issue the centerpiece of his unsuccessful campaign for the GOP presidential nomination last year. "I think he's been very fair in the way he has approached it," he said.

McCain has agreed to wait until the end of March or early April to take up the bill, giving new President George W. Bush the opportunity "to begin to roll out his agenda that he talked about in the election," Lott said.

Lott added there was no guarantee the bill would not be met with extended debate or a filibuster attempt. "I would discourage it, and would not, at this point, support a filibuster," he said. He noted that he had qualified the statement because "You never know, exactly, what will happen."

Still, he said, "I want to get this issue done and out of the Senate."

Lott said he had briefly discussed the timing of the bill with Sen. Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota -- the Senate Minority Leader, and "he seemed to be okay with that."

The Senate Republican leadership has opposed McCain's efforts to reform the way campaigns are funded and has never allowed floor debate or a vote on the measure.

However, Republican leaders have been negotiating with McCain to set a time to debate campaign finance reform in order to prevent the former presidential candidate from forcing a vote in the first weeks of the Bush administration.

McCain and his Democratic co-sponsor, Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin, reintroduced the bill this week and the Arizona senator plans the first in a series of town hall meetings to promote his legislation Monday in Little Rock, Arkansas.


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Friday, January 26, 2001

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