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McCain, Feingold Hold News Conference Regarding Campaign Finance ReformAired March 16, 2001 - 11:41 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Time to check in with our Jeanne Meserve in Washington -- Jeanne.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Leon, Senators John McCain and Russ Feingold are out on the hustlings today, trying to rekindle the public fervor that made campaign finance reform a big issue in the presidential election.
They are holding a press conference right now. Let's listen in.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: (JOINED IN PROGRESS) ... It has to come from outside the Beltway. We'll be glad to respond to any questions or comments that you might have, except to say that we're ready to go on Monday.
We know that we're in uncertain waters because we've never had a chance before to have an open debate with amendments and the strong likelihood that we will reach a conclusion. And on that particular subject, we don't intend to allow the Senate to leave the issue until we get a final vote on it. As long as we have 51 votes, we can prevent that.
So we're optimistic. We want to emphasize that this is not the end with this legislation but only the beginning to reform many of the aspects of government. And we don't believe we can achieve those until we have campaign finance reform.
SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD (D), WISCONSIN: Thanks, John.
Of course, this tour has been wonderful. John did a good job of selecting the locations. My wife said that we should have t-shirts made up now that we've completed the tour, but the truth is it has been very helpful.
We've had this experience of just going out to the floor to do a two-day debate where they immediately do the filibuster, and it just doesn't feel the same as it does this time. It really is a different feeling.
We have an enormous amount of momentum, and it's, in part, because of people like Representative Morella and Representative Gilchrest who have demonstrated the kind of bipartisan support in the House where they've actually passed this things a couple of times. Our hats are off to the House when we really draw a lot of our strength from their ability to work together and to be disciplined. That's what we need this time.
And the only other thing I want to say is, somebody asked us about Senator Hagel, I'm glad that the bloom is coming off the rose of that one. The Hagel bill is the opposite of reform. The Hagel bill is, literally, taking this system, putting the stamp of approval on it and making sure that it lives forever.
It allows every single dime of soft money that is currently allowed to continue to be used by funneling it through the state parties. And the total amount of money that a couple would be able to give under that bill over a two-year period is $540,000. That doesn't sound like reform to me.
MESERVE: There you hear Senators Russ Feingold and John McCain making their case in Annapolis, Maryland. McCain saying, We are ready to go. Feingold saying, We have a different feeling about this. We have the momentum.
What they are talking about is their campaign finance legislation. It will be taken up in the U.S. Senate on Monday. It's expected to be a heated and very extensive debate. It could take as long as two weeks. A lot of amendments and counterproposals being offered.
Those two senators will be holding a town meeting at the top of the hour.
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