McCain-Feingold Nears Defeat

By Bruce Sullivan | July 7, 2008 | 8:24 PM EDT

( - A ban on so-called "soft money" to finance political campaigns inched closer to defeat in the Senate Tuesday as supporters of a bill sponsored by Senators John McCain, (R-AZ), and Russ Feingold, (D-WI) twice failed to muster the 60 votes needed to end debate on the measure and bring it to a vote.

By a vote of 52-48, the Senate voted against ending a filibuster, and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, (R-MS), is expected to seek the bill's removal from the floor after failing a second time by a vote of 53-47 to obtain cloture. McCain, who said that he blames his Senate colleagues on both sides of the isle, has vowed to "persevere" and to bring the matter up again if it fails to get voted on this year.

"The Democrats have tied us up, too, not just Republicans," said McCain.

McCain and Feingold have fought long and hard for comprehensive campaign finance reform, but their latest bill has been stripped down to basically a ban on unlimited contributions to political parties, plus restrictions on the ability of unions to spend mandatory dues on political campaigns.

McCain said that the current campaign finance system breeds "corruption" prompting some of his colleagues, who oppose his bill, to counterattack that it cannot corrupt honest politicians.

"Those who are corrupt will be corrupt regardless of the system. And those who are not corrupt will not be corrupt regardless of the system," said Sen. Robert Bennett (R-UT).