- The Washington Times - Monday, February 25, 2002

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said yesterday he believes Senate supporters of campaign finance reform have the votes to head off a potential filibuster and a leading opponent of the measure did not deny it.
"I'm hopeful that I can get the Republican support necessary to get the bill up and to have a good debate about it," Mr. Daschle said on ABC's "This Week." "But obviously if we don't, we'll have to move toward" overcoming stalling tactics. "Then we'll need 60 votes, and … it looks like we may have 60 votes."
On CNN's "Late Edition," Sen. Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican and the Senate's leading opponent of the bill, said it is "not possible now" to stop the measure. But he also argued that "there's no particular urgency."
"We'll have at least 41 senators to ensure we have the time to get it in a little better condition," Mr. McConnell said. A week before, he said that opponents had enough votes to stop the bill completely.
Mr. Daschle said he would try to have the Senate begin considering the bill as early as today.
If the filibuster is avoided, the bill would need 51 votes to pass and head to President Bush, who has not committed himself on the legislation. While he joined congressional Republicans in trying to stop its passage, his senior advisers have indicated that he would sign it.
Two weeks ago, the House passed a bill that would ban corporations, unions and individuals from making large, unregulated "soft money" donations to political parties.
The measure, sponsored by Reps. Christopher Shays, Connecticut Republican, and Martin T. Meehan, Massachusetts Democrat, also would restrict unions, corporations and some independent groups from broadcasting issue ads within 60 days of an election or 30 days of a primary.
The Senate passed a similar bill, sponsored by Sens. John McCain, Arizona Republican, and Russell D. Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat, last April by a 59-41 vote.
Mr. Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, has said the Senate would consider the House measure rather than form a conference committee to work out a compromise.
Mr. Shays said on CNN that he did not see much need for a conference committee. The House bill, he said, "is McCain-Feingold with some changes, and the changes are minimal."
"The focus is there, the energy is there, the momentum is there," Mr. Daschle said. "I think we're going to get this job done."

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