Skip to main content
CNN.com /TRANSCRIPTS

CNN TV
EDITIONS





CNN BREAKING NEWS

House Discharge Petition To Force Vote on Campaign Finance Reform

Aired January 24, 2002 - 13:24   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Now we also have some other news coming from Capitol Hill. This is breaking news, I should say, that we've got on campaign finance reform. It's been a long time since we've talked about it.

Our Congressional Correspondent Jon Karl has got some details for us now on this. We've been waiting for year -- for weeks now -- some have been waiting for years now to see whether or not there would actually be any movement in the near future on this issue, and apparently, Jon, we've reached something of a breakthrough here. Correct?

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is the return with vengeance of what was probably the most contentious issue to hit the Congress last year. Campaign finance reform, if you remember what happened there, it passed the Senate but was bogged down here in the House of Representatives.

Well, today's news is that supporters of campaign finance reform now have 218 signatures on so-called discharge petition, which means, in English, Leon, that they now have enough signatures to force a vote on their issue in the House of Representatives. A potential final vote on the issue that could pave the way to send this down to the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House for the president to either sign or veto.

The final four signatures on that petition, which has been in the works for more than year now -- or almost a year -- came from two Democrats and two Republicans. The two Democrats were Thomas -- I'm sorry, Corrine Brown of Florida. Richard Neil of Massachusetts. The two Republicans who signed in defiance of their leadership, were Charlie Bass of North -- of New Hampshire and Thomas Petri of Wisconsin.

Now, Leon, to put this in perspective, this is a situation -- a discharge position like this, that is virtually without modern-day precedent. We can only find one other time when the leadership was forced to vote on an issue by one of these discharge petitions. That was back in 1994 on a balanced budget bill. So this is a very unusual measure.

Usually, what happens is the leadership of the House, in this case, the Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert remains in very tight control over what is voted on on the floor. But, now, he will be forced to bring this issue you up.

And I spoke to speaker's office. His spokesman said the Speaker has always said, that if they get to 218, he will not stand in the way. That he will allow this to come up for a vote on the floor of the House.

So, stay tuned. Could be a very interesting issue happening, just as these Enron hearings, which are also highlighting issue of campaign finance reform, are heating up.

Now we have, from the floor, that sound, by the way Leon, the minute this happened, here's what's happened on the floor of the House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. EARL POMEROY (D), NORTH DAKOTA: Just now, moments ago, very important signatures of the last remaining members were placed onto the campaign finance reform discharge petition. 218 signatures were reached. This bill will come to the House floor. The House will act, like the Senate will act, and we will send to the president a campaign finance reform bill.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: Well, Leon, that's a big hurdle cleared for the advocates of campaign finance reform, but it's not the only hurdle. Once they get a vote, they will have to actually pass their bill. And it's going to be a tough fight.

HARRIS: Yeah. Exactly. Good point, Jon. Got to ask you, though, real quickly. Was it Enron, here, that made the breakthrough or what? Was it that that got Bass and Petri all over the hill here?

KARL: Well, supporters of campaign finance reform believed that they had to chance to get this even before the Enron story hit. But, clearly Enron was the -- was a clear momentum factor here. With the Enron hearings hitting today, and with their being no end in sight to these Enron hearings on Capitol Hill, there was a lot more pressure on people to come out and say, "Okay, enough is enough. We've got to do something about big money."

In politics, I mean, of course, Enron gave $1.6 million in soft money to the political parties. Just in the 2000 campaign cycle. That is the kind of soft money that would be banned under this campaign finance reform bill.

HARRIS: Yeah, and it would be a heck of a coincidence if Enron did not have anything to do with a lot of this.

KARL: Yeah.

HARRIS: Interesting. We'll see how these ripples are finally (ph) filling their way out here of this big bond in Washington. Jon Karl, good work. We appreciate that.

KARL: Sure.

HARRIS: We'll let you get back to it, and we'll check back with you later on.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


 
 
 
 


 Search   

Back to the top