House Passes Campaign Finance Reform Bill

February 14, 2002

The House of Representatives, after an all-day and all-night session, finally passed the Shays-Meehan campaign finance bill (HR2356) by a 240-189 margin. The bill would drastically reduce the amount of money that could be given to political parties directly, and would also ban broadcast advertising within 60 days of an election if the ad specifically mentions one of the candidates in the respective election race. The bill would not take effect until after the November elections later this year, and contains several other small changes to election finance laws. The bill now goes to a conference committee to be merged with the Senate version of the bill (S27) that passed the Senate in April of 2001. After the conference committee reaches a final version, the final bill will be voted on again by both the House and Senate. President Bush will also have the option of vetoing the bill, subject to a possible Senate override. Opponents of this legislation, primarily Republicans, have threatened to lead a Senate filibuster to attempt to stop its final passage. Many questions remain about the ultimate constitutionality of the bill; even if Congress is successful in passing this bill later in the year it will surely be tested in court almost immediately. And while far from a perfect bill, one must applaud the fact that the Congress has seriously confronted the massive big-money corruption of our political process. For more information on this issue visit or The roll-call vote may be found at cspan or at Stay tuned!