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Senators: No To Spending Limits

They defeat constitutional amendment to limit campaign spending

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, March 18) -- Senators soundly beat back a proposed constitutional amendment today that would have allowed limits on campaign spending and contributions, and overruled a Watergate-era Supreme Court decision.


Sponsored by Sens. Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) and Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.), the measure failed even to get a simple majority, and went down 38-61. As a constitutional amendment, passage would have required two-thirds (67) votes.

The Supreme Court ruled in 1976 that spending limits infringed free speech rights, and the amendment, if ratified by the states, would have overturned it. Not only did the measure allow Congress to set limits, it also permitted state governments to impose restrictions on state and local races as well.


The Senate's leading opponent of spending limits, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), hailed the vote as proof limits are unconstitutional. McConnell has led the fight against the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill, which would award benefits to candidates who voluntarily limit their spending.

That bill is supported by President Bill Clinton, most Democrats, and a smattering of Republicans.

Espousing an idea even more repugnant to most Republicans, a group of Democratic senators announced legislation that would authorize public financing of congressional campaigns.

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