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House Approves Campaign Probe Funds

Vote follows Thursday's defeat of bill to fund congressional committees

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WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, March 21) -- After a GOP revolt against its leadership Thursday, the House today approved legislation to fund a campaign finance probe as well as other congressional committees.

Voting mostly along partisan lines, lawmakers allocated $3.8 million for a House Government Reform and Oversight committee investigation of Democratic fund-raising abuses. The bill also provides funding for 19 other House committees.

Democrats decried the fund-raising provisions as heavy-handed. Declared Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), "This is an investigation where the chairman is insisting on a blatantly partisan scope, a scope limited except to Democratic fund-raising practices, an investigation where the normal procedures are suspended because the chairman insists on issuing subpoenas and releasing confidential information without committee debate or vote."

But Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.) countered, "[It will] allow the Government Reform and Oversight Committee investigation into campaign fund-raising abuses by the Clinton Administration to proceed despite the best efforts of our colleagues in the minority to cover up those abuses and undermine our constitutional responsibility to investigate wrongdoing in the executive branch."

Though Republicans prevailed, today's vote followed a stinging defeat Thursday night, when a similar bill was defeated 213-210.

In addition to the fund-raising provision, that bill would have increased the budget for all congressional committees by $22 million, which was adamantly opposed by 11 conservative members. They joined Democrats united in opposing the fund-raising provision.

With the GOP leadership already showing signs of disarray, the Thursday defeat adds to the heat House Speaker Newt Gingrich is getting from conservative members for suggesting tax cuts be put off in the interests of balancing the federal budget.

The fund-raising investigation is to be carried out by the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, chaired by Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), who has been beset by allegations this week that he pressured a lobbyist for campaign donations.

Though some are calling for Burton to step aside, he expressed relief Thursday night that the failed vote was not being blamed on him. "I haven't heard anybody say... the reason for the vote was the investigation or the fact I was a bad guy," he told reporters.


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