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In recent days there has been much speculation regarding my position on retaining the severability of the campaign finance reform bill being considered by the Senate.

First let me start by re-iterating my strong and unwavering commitment to meaningful campaign finance reform. Since I arrived in the Senate, I, along with many of my colleagues, have championed an overhaul of our campaign finance system. Our system demands more disclosure and accountability, we should reduce the amount of money in the system, we should ensure that the voice of every American can be heard, and we must require fairness.

I admire Senator McCain and others for their courage and persistence in pursuing this goal. Senator McCain has shown himself to be a real leader, and I enjoy working with him in the Senate.

I believe the McCain/Feingold bill is a carefully crafted, balanced bill. There have been a number of amendments to this bill - some of which I have supported; some I've opposed. Campaign finance reform, in addition to reforming the excesses of the current system, must be fair and not favor any one party or group over another. If the Court, at some later date, finds that some part or parts of our reform effort do not pass constitutional muster, that ruling should not be allowed to tip the scales to the benefit or detriment of one class of actors with regard to their ability to engage in political debate.

As strongly as I believe in reforming our campaign finance laws, I also believe we should do a better job of supporting our public schools, providing more and better access to quality healthcare, protecting our environment, and creating family wage jobs. If my, or the people who share my positions', ability to communicate those positions is altered to a greater or lesser extent than those with other opinions, then what we have left will be fundamentally unfair. The balance of this bill could change depending on the court's interpretation. The severability issue goes directly to this point.

Which leads me to why I believe this year's effort is different from previous efforts in one very significant and fundamental way. Today, we know more about the Supreme Court than we did just a few months ago. We know that the court is not beyond interpretations that would appear to favor one party over another. And that has given me pause - and - I would think - it may give my colleagues pause, when we consider the application of this law, how it will be tested in court, and what we may end up with as a result.

If the Supreme Court decided to uphold limits on the amount of soft money flowing to our parties, while allowing special interest groups to spend unlimited sums to attack or defend candidates, then we will turn the electoral process over to those same special interests whose influence we seek to limit.

In this debate, too often, people who have differed with the sponsors have been characterized as wanting to "kill" the bill. Contrary to those assertions, this bill - with or without non-severability - is about to pass the Senate.

After careful consideration, I have decided to vote against the non-severability amendment. I have made this judgement with strong reservations about how the Court could interpret the law we pass.

I am not willing to participate in enacting a precedent for severability that could impact a wide range of bills to come before the Senate. Rather than adding a non-severability clause to this bill the Congress should act quickly to meet the challenges that may be presented by any future court action, and fashion a set of campaign finance laws that will serve to strike a balance and ensure fairness.