Campaign Finance Battle May End Before It Begins

By Jeff Johnson | July 7, 2008 | 8:20 PM EDT

Capitol Hill ( - Senate Republican Whip Don Nickles says the Shays-Meehan campaign finance bill to be considered by the Senate this week cannot be stopped.

"It's going to pass. It's going to pass very quickly," the Oklahoma Republican said on "Fox News Sunday."

Opponents of the bill had hoped to offer amendments that would force it back to a House-Senate conference committee, where the proposal could be amended or killed.

"It's going to pass, and it will pass without amendments. I think there probably should be some amendments, but the votes aren't there," Nickles added.

That having been said, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle is still preparing for a fight.

"If we have a filibuster, we're gong to do it around the clock, beginning on Wednesday, because I need to get this done by Friday," Daschle, said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

"I believe we will get it done, either the easy way or the hard way, but it will be done by Friday," he added.

Nickles also criticized some of the Washington-based advocacy groups that have been weighing in on the bill.

One such group is Common Cause, which came under fire during the House debate over the bill when opponents learned that employees of the group had actually written portions of the legislation.

Common Cause has been running radio advertising in the home states of senators opposed to the bill, such as this one, directed at Arkansas Republican Sen. Tim Hutchinson.

"It shouldn't take courage to change a system that allows corporations and unions to make unlimited donations. But it does," the announcement claims.

"This week, the Senate can pass the McCain-Feingold [Shays-Meehan] law that will end these unlimited political contributions. It's almost ready to go to the President. But it will take courage to shut down the machine that brings so much money to politicians," the ad continues.

"But Senator Tim Hutchinson doesn't support reform yet. Call Senator Hutchinson and ask him to support McCain-Feingold [Shays-Meehan]," the Common Cause ad concludes.

Nickles says it's ironic that Common Cause is supporting the bill using a tactic that would be banned if Shays-Meehan becomes law.

"I'm bothered right now that the proponents of campaign finance are running ads ... using soft money, saying vote for this bill," he said. "That bothers me."

The Shays-Meehan bill (also known as "McCain-Feingold," for the two original Senate co-sponsors) contains a ban on using the name of a federal candidate in broadcast advertising 60 days prior to a general election and 30 days prior to a primary or runoff election in the media market where the candidate is running.

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