- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 26, 2001

The emergency agenda in Congress since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks has revived President Bush's energy plan and killed campaign finance reform.
Senate Republicans were working behind the scenes yesterday with Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, the assistant Democratic leader, to enact the administration's energy policy.
The plan, which includes drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, was given little chance of passing the Democrat-led Senate before the terrorist attacks renewed the call for less dependence on foreign oil.
The House approved the plan in July. Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, introduced it on the Senate floor Friday as a military readiness issue.
"Opening ANWR could meet the daily energy requirements of our armed forces for an entire year," said House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, Texas Republican. "It could replace all the oil from Iraq for the next fifty years. We can't wait another day. The Senate should act quickly."
Meanwhile, lawmakers yesterday were all but pronouncing dead the campaign finance legislation that received so much debate this year. Congress instead has turned its attention to economic bailouts, airline security and national defense.
"Campaign finance reform is being crowded out by more important things," said House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Texas Republican. "We've got to go a long way to establishing a greater degree of security and stability in America before the Congress will be able to take that up."
The Senate has approved the campaign finance regulations proposed by Sens. John McCain, Arizona Republican, and Russell D. Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat. But the issue stalled in the House, and supporters were hoping to force a vote this autumn.
"I can't worry about it right now," Mr. McCain said yesterday. "I haven't thought about it since [Sept. 11]."
Mr. Armey said he was approached in the House cloakroom yesterday by Rep. Christopher Shays, Connecticut Republican and sponsor of the legislation in the House.
"He was letting me know we can't go home until we do that," Mr. Armey said. "Quite frankly, campaign finance reform is and never has been about anything other than ourselves. One of the things that has heightened my heart a little bit in the last couple of weeks is that we've gotten beyond ourselves to the things that are more noble and more important than ourselves.
"Before the 11th of September, it was the lowest thing on the American radar screen for people outside of Washington, D.C.," he said. "And my guess is that it is even further lower now than it was then."
The Senate-passed bill would ban "soft money" donations to political parties that are often used to pay for issue advocacy advertisements on television.
It would also raise the limit for individuals' direct donations to specific candidates, called "hard money."

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