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McConnell Pushes Campaign Finance Changes

While all eyes were on the House, the Senate actually got some work done. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
While all eyes were on the House, the Senate actually got some work done. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

An effort to ease limits on spending by party committees was among the late lingering issues as negotiations continued on legislation to keep the government funded past Thursday.  

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has championed the change, telling CQ Roll Call  on Friday that eliminating the spending restrictions would vest more power with the party national committees, as well as the congressional campaign committees, calling the current practice “an absurdity in the current law.” “I have suggested and I think it’s being discussed on a bipartisan basis whether or not this would be an improvement over the current system. Let me just sum it up: It would strengthen the parties, who have frankly not as much clout anymore, much of the firepower, it is now outside the parties,” the Kentucky Republican said. “I don’t think there is anything good about weakening the parties.”  

“Under current law, a national party committee has a statutory limit on how much it may spend on it’s own candidates by state,” McConnell said.  

In the interview, McConnell didn’t speculate as to the prospects his proposal would be bundled into the end-of-the-year spending package, but as of Monday evening the issue remained very much in play and it was one of the biggest sticking points being discussed at the leadership level, according to two Republican appropriators on the Senate side.  

Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., told reporters Monday that she had completed an agreement with her House counterpart, GOP Rep. Harold Rogers of Kentucky, on matters within their purview, but added that at this juncture, “everything is a sticking point until we can get it unstuck and filed.”  

Mikulski said negotiations were ongoing at the leadership level on remaining elements, likely including the campaign finance language and other leadership priorities. The goal had been to file the spending package Monday evening before consideration by the House and Senate this week.  

Emily Ethridge and Tamar Hallerman contributed to this report.

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