Campaign Finance Reform: One More Try

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WASHINGTON: House Democrats are giving campaign finance reform, that most quixotic of political windmills, another tilt. And after the Shays-Meehan soft-money ban passed the House last year but got to the Senate too late for consideration, they're starting early this time. A new House petition slaps limits on debate and aims to get the bill to the Senate in plenty of time to rally the voters -- and hopefully shame Republicans into going along. TIME congressional corespondent Jay Carney says they've got the right Speaker for it: "Because Dennis Hastert seems to care more about harmony than ideology, he may give way and allow a House vote a lot sooner than Gingrich did."

But in the Senate stands Mitch McConnell, head of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, with a filibuster at the ready, and Carney says the kind of political momentum needed to overcome it will be hard to come by while the bombs are falling on Kosovo. "To get more Republicans to buck their leadership, the Democrats will need to turn this into a p.r. issue," says Carney. "And right now it's very hard to get it on the front page." To beat McConnell, proponents need 60 votes; last time they topped out at 51. And the make-no-apologies Kentuckian isn't backing down. Asked whether he'd block reform again this year, McConnell said, "Is grass green?"