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Special Event

Motion to Quell Senator Thompson Amendment to McCain-Feingold Defeated

Aired March 28, 2001 - 10:35 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: We're going to go up to Washington now. And our Bob Franken is checking in from Capitol Hill, has got the latest update for us now on the voting on campaign finance reform -- Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK, Remember now that a yes vote is a no vote on the motion to get rid of Fred Thompson's legislation, which would raise the hard money limits in campaign financing to $2,500.

The tabling motion has been defeated. That is to say, that the first test of Thompson's motion has, in fact, resulted in Thompson prevailing. Now we have Senator Trent Lott, the majority leader, on the Senate floor. He could probably explain this better than me.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MAJORITY LEADER: We would go to a vote on that point on the amendment that was not tabled. Of course, there's continuing interest in this area. And Senator Feinstein has an amendment that she would like to offer that would have a different level for hard money and would affect not only individual contributions but what individuals could give up and down the line, including to the parties.

I think the fair thing to do is to have the two senators have a chance to have a direct vote side by side and not go through procedural hoops of second degrees and motions to table. But at some point, we should get to a vote, and get a result, and move on, either raise these limits or not.

I feel very strongly the limits need to be raised. They haven't been modified in over 25 years. A lot has happened in 25 years. It's part of the fund-raising chase that senators and Congressmen have to wrestle with.

And I'm concerned now that what this is trying to do is set up a marathon or negotiating process that drags the responsible Thompson amendment further down. But I'd be glad to yield.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: Mr. President, this is the first time, as the leaders pointed out during the long eight days of this debate, that the will of the Senate has not prevailed on an amendment. What's happening here, of course, is those who were not successful on the Thompson amendment do not want to allow the Senate to adopt the amendment.

FRANKEN: So, Senator Mitch McConnell, who is the most outspoken opponent of the campaign finance legislation, is on the floor now. We heard a moment ago from the Senate majority leader Trent Lott expressing the kind of frustration that is daily in the Senate.

Let's go over first degree amendments, second degree amendments, a little primer on the convoluted rules. First, to the amendment would be Senator Thompson's proposal to raise the hard money limitation to $2,500. Democrats say that's too high.

Second degree amendment, which would modify that is from Democrat Dianne Feinstein. Her proposal would make it $2,000. The Democrats have said they could live with that. So now they are trying to hash all this out.

You see now that Senator Russell Feingold, one of the sponsors of the McCain legislation, the McCain-Feingold legislation, is on the floor. They're trying to sort this out. It looks like you're going to have a vote on both of them. And if Feinstein would prevail, that would move things down to $2,000, all of this going on while there is behind-the-scenes negotiation going on, possibly on some sort of compromise, all part of the perilous track that's been followed by the people who have been negotiating through McCain-Feingold for the last couple of weeks.

There is more to come. But right now, we're waiting to see exactly what is going to be voted on, $2,500, $2,000, or some figure in between --Leon.

HARRIS: All right, thanks, Bob. We'll get back to you once we get all that stuff figured out there in Washington.

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