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McCain-Feingold foe vows court battle if reform measure becomes law

Sen. McConnell hopes President Bush will not sign the McCain-Feingold bill if it reaches the White House  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The leading opponent of campaign finance reform said Sunday he will go to court if necessary to overturn the McCain-Feingold legislation if it passed.

Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said he hoped President Bush would simply not sign the bill if it goes to the White House.

The bill is up for a final vote in the Senate Monday evening and then must be considered by the House.

"If it looks like it does today, and it's signed into law, we'll go to court," McConnell said.

In its current form, the bill boosts the cap on so-called "hard money" donations to federal candidates, while eliminating "soft money" donations, those unlimited funds that go to political parties. The bill would also restrict advertising 60 days before an election by unions and corporations.

Campaign finance reform
Status and summary of the McCain-Feingold reforms
Hagel's bill status and summary (from Thomas)

Last week, Bush left the door open to signing some reform legislation, although he did not specifically endorse the McCain-Feingold measure.

"I look forward to signing a good piece of legislation," Bush said.

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said he believed the bill he so-sponsored would eventually become law.

"There's gonna be great resistance to this legislation because it changes the status quo and threatens incumbency," he told NBC's "Meet the Press" TV news show. "I'm guardedly optimistic that we can pass the House and get it to the president for his signature."

Other congressmen were less certain.

Rep. Charles Rangel, D-New York, predicted the measure would pass the House by a slim margin, but said Republicans would "put a poison pill" in the legislation when it goes to a conference committee. "And it will never reach the president's desk," Rangel told CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer."

Republicans, meanwhile, left open the possibility that McCain would not even be named to any conference committee that considers his legislation.

Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Nebraska, said McCain didn't sit on the Rules Committee, which had jurisdiction over the bill, so he didn't have a legitimate claim to sitting on any committee that resolves differences between the House and Senate versions that may emerge. Appearing on CNN, Hagel said McCain's views on campaign finance reform did not square with those of most of his GOP colleagues.

"Senator McCain is not representative of the Republican conference on this bill," said Hagel, who had unsuccessfully pushed a rival measure in the Senate.

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Federal Election Commission
  • Campaign Finance Law Resources
Election and Campaign Finance Law
Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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