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Significant Defeat for Hagel's Alternative Campaign Finance Reform BillAired March 27, 2001 - 1:07 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: We have been following along the Senate's vote today on campaign-finance reform. They've been voting on the Chuck Hagel measure. This is an alternative plan to the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance reform that has been getting so much attention. They've been voting on a third amendment, and this is the biggy. Hagel's plan would allow for some soft-money donations, up to $60,000 a year. Of course, McCain-Feingold would ban it outright.
Let's see the outcome now with CNN's Jonathan Karl. He's following it on Capitol Hill.
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Natalie, it looks like a significant defeat for Chuck Hagel, and that means a major victory for John McCain and Russ Feingold.
What is happening here is the Senate is voting against really the heart of the Hagel proposal, which, as you mentioned, is that effort to limit soft money, those donations to political parties, to cap them at $60,000 a year, rather than ban them as McCain and Feingold would. The Senate now voting against it.
This means that the primary alternative to John McCain's and Russ Feingold's bill, the alternative that was approved by the -- an amendment that was preferred by the White House -- this is George W. Bush. He hasn't endorsed this, but he has said he vastly favors it to McCain-Feingold.
So what has happened here is that the president's choice, Chuck Hagel's alternative, going down, and John McCain and Russ Feingold having a significant victory, but it is certainly not over yet. Several critical test votes coming forward.
Again, we don't expect to see a final vote on final passage of the McCain-Feingold bill until Thursday at the very earliest. Back to you.
ALLEN: And -- and how did the vote come down as far as party lines, Jonathan? As you spoke, we could see John McCain on the floor of the Senate patting backs, but I couldn't tell who he was patting there. KARL: Well, virtually -- there are only two Democrats so far, and they are still finalizing their votes. We could see one or two vote changes before a final vote on this. But there were only two Democrats that voted with Chuck Hagel on this. and that was his fellow Nebraskan Ben Nelson, and also John Breaux of Louisiana, who is the only Democrat who has said outright that he would vote against the McCain-Feingold bill.
So Democrats remain solidly behind McCain and Feingold on this vote, and several Republicans defected and supported McCain on this particular vote.
ALLEN: All right. As you say, though, many more test votes ahead here as they push on?
KARL: Absolutely, Natalie.
ALLEN: OK. Jonathan Karl on Capitol Hill. Thanks.
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