McCain-Feingold Bill

September, 1998

McCain-Feingold: As anticipated, Senator John McCain (R-Az.) once again pushed his "campaign reform" bill to the Senate floor, this time as an amendment to an unrelated appropriations bill. This bill would severely restrict the right of NRLC, NRLC affiliates, and other citizen groups to communicate with the public about the positions of federal politicians, and about upcoming votes in Congress. Once again, pro-life Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Majority Leader Trent Lott (R- Ms.) objected to a direct vote on the bill, thereby forcing McCain to seek to "invoke cloture," which requires 60 votes. The Sept. 10 vote was 52 to 48 for cloture; in other words, McCain fell eight votes short. No senator changed his vote from the last such roll call, which occurred on February 25. All 45 Democratic senators voted to advance the bill, as did seven Republicans: McCain, Chafee (RI), Collins (Me.), Jeffords (Vt.), Snowe (Me.), Specter (Pa.), and Thompson (Tn.). McCain then withdrew his amendment and said he would support no further attempts this year unless there is "some sign of progress." McCain also suggested that his side might have better luck next year, adding, "Time is on our side." In reality, however, the lobbying by NRLC, NRLC affiliates, and other pro-life groups over the past two years has stiffened opposition to the bill among Republican senators, and McCain has lost ground in the Senate since 1996, when he had mustered 54 votes for cloture.

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