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CNN Today

Senate Approves Controversial Campaign Finance Measure

Aired June 29, 2000 - 2:13 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: A controversial campaign finance reform bill is ready for the president's signature. It could become law in time to affect this year's elections.

CNN's Chris Black fills us in from up on Capitol Hill, where she is today -- Chris.

CHRIS BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, the Senate has approved and sent to President Clinton a bill that rips the veil of secrecy from tax-exempt organizations that engage in political activity. This is the first campaign finance measure to pass the Congress in 21 years.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Today, indeed, marks a seminal day in our battle to reform our electoral system and restore the faith of the American citizenry that ours is a government of and for the people. This is a vote for campaign finance reform.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACK: Now, these so-called "stealth committees" attracted a lot of attention during the presidential primary season, when they ran attack ads on television against Vice President Al Gore and John McCain, the Republican president candidate who is now one of the leaders of this fight in Congress.

Here on the Hill, supporters say this is a small but very important first step towards comprehensive reform. But one of the most bitter opponents of comprehensive reform, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky actually went to the floor of the Senate today and urged his Republican colleagues to vote for it, even though he said it may be unconstitutional.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: It does to take us down the arguably unconstitutional path of disclosure related to issue advocacy, which is outside the area of the Federal Election Campaign Act and is of dubious constitutionality.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACK: Now Senator McConnell said that it was way too hard to explain hard to explain this in a television ad, and he is the Republican responsible for electing Republicans to the Senate this year. In any case, there are some opponents that say this law will have very little effect because these so-called 527 groups could just reorganize themselves, give up their tax exempt status, and continue to operate in secrecy. As one reformer on the Hill said today, "We have a long way to go."

Chris Black, CNN, reporting live from Capitol Hill.

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