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Special Event

Senate Passes Campaign Finance Reform Bill

Aired April 2, 2001 - 6:09 p.m. ET

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

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: And now it's official. We have the final tally on the Senate vote on the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform: 59 votes in favor, 41 votes against. So McCain-Feingold moves from the Senate to the House, and I am told that Senator John McCain is talking to reporters now, so let's see if we can go there.

There he is, walking into -- there at the Capitol. Senator McCain, along with his co-sponsor Russ Feingold and Olympia Snowe, the congresswoman from the state of Maine.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Uncharacteristically, I have very little to say, except obviously we are very pleased. We're pleased of the size of the victory, and we're going to be very happy this evening, and tomorrow we will begin our efforts to get this bill passed through the House as soon as possible, and to the president's desk.

And I want to just say that I'm proud, obviously, to have my better half with me, Russ Feingold, but the fact is -- the fact is, the better half of my partnership.

(LAUGHTER)

MCCAIN: But without the individuals who are here, Russ and I could not have succeeded. I chronicled that before, but the negotiations conducted between Fred Thompson and Dianne Feinstein were critical. Thad Cochran's absolute stamp of approval was so important. The Snowe-Jeffords amendment, which was crafted over such a long period of time. Susan Collins' involvement. Carl Levin, who, frankly, is the wisest parliamentarian that I know of, that kept us on a steady course throughout. There are many others to name. Arlen Specter, who played a key role in this as well.

So, so many of my colleagues that made this happen, that deserve the credit more than Russ and I do.

With that -- Russ.

SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD (D), WISCONSIN: Well, we're extremely happy.

It's a very, very satisfying moment. I recognize, and I think many Americans do, that this is modest reform. There's much more that needs to be done to bring people back into the political system, but this is a major step in the right direction. I know that we have more to do. John and I and all of us will be ready to work with the House starting tomorrow. We have to get the job done. We can't just rest on our laurels of this wonderful vote.

But finally, I find this to be an inspiration. The democracy has, again, shown that it can correct itself. And when you have these kinds of unlimited contributions, I think it truly was threatening the very foundation of our system.

So it's a good day. We're very happy. And I am so grateful for the help of everybody here and all the other senators.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We decided to continue to follow your lead, we're not speaking.

FEINGOLD: That's it. Questions?

WOODRUFF: Smiles on the faces of Senator McCain, Senator Feingold, their colleagues who helped propel this legislation successfully through the Senate. Olympia Snowe there from Maine, Fred Thompson from Tennessee, Thad Cochran from the state of Mississippi.

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