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Today Senator Murray voted in favor of the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform legislation. It passed the Senate 59-41 and will now move to the House of Representatives for consideration.

While casting her vote, Senator Murray issued the following statement:


Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, today I am pleased to vote to overhaul our nation's campaign finance system. The McCain-Feingold legislation represents a step forward that is long overdue. In recent years, it has become clear that our campaign finance system is broken. There's too much money in elections. It's too hard for average citizens to be heard. Their voices are being drowned out by big-money special interests and wealthy contributors. It's getting harder for citizens of average means to run for office. The system is too secretive. There are undisclosed groups giving money and trying to influence elections with no sunshine and no public disclosure. And especially after this last election, many people are wondering if their vote will count. As a result, Americans are cynical about elections and aren't participating. We need to turn that around.

Ever since I came to the Senate, I've fought for campaign finance reform. I've consistently voted to get the Senate to debate campaign finance reform. In 1997, I served on the Leadership Task Force on Campaign Reform. In 1998, I offered an amendment for full disclosure. And in my own reelection campaign in 1998, I went and above and beyond the legal requirements, and I disclosed everyone who supported me -- whether they contributed $5 dollars or $500.

Given the problems in the system, I developed a set of principles for reform that have guided my decisions throughout this debate. My principles for reform are:

First, there should be less money in politics.

Second, I want to make sure that average voters aren't drowned-out by special interests or the wealthy.

Third, we must demand far more disclosure from those who work to influence elections. When voters see an ad on TV or get a flyer in the mail, they should know who paid for it. There must be disclosure for telephone calls and voter guides. Citizens have a right to know who's trying to influence them. We've seen a disturbing increase in the number of issue ads, which are often negative attack ads. Too often, voters have no idea who's bankrolling these ads. Voters deserve to know and that is why I have called for far greater disclosure.

Fourth, we need to keep elections open to all Americans. We need to ensure that average citizens not just millionaires can run for office. When I ran for the Senate in 1992, the most I'd ever earned was 23,000 a year. I wasn't a millionaire. I wasn't a celebrity, but I was able to run for office and win a seat in the Senate because the system was open to anyone. That's getting more difficult today.

Finally, we need to make it easier, not harder, for people to vote. We need to make sure that when citizens vote their votes are counted.

The bill now before the Senate makes some progress toward the principles I've outlined. I am disappointed this legislation does not go further. Some amendments have strengthened the bill. Other amendments, including raising the limits on hard money, have weakened the bill. The hard money limit in particular will inject more money into politics at a time when I, and most Americans, want to reduce the amount of money in politics. This bill also has the potential to give a disproportionately larger role in elections to third party organizations. I'd rather see citizens and candidates have a stronger voice than third party organizations.

I know my colleagues recognize that this is a carefully balanced bill. If, at some point in the future, the courts invalidate some portion of this bill, Congress should return to the legislation to restore the balance of fairness in our nation's elections laws. Campaign finance reform should not be a gift to either party, but should instead return our democracy to its rightful owners, the American people.

Mr. President, before I close I would like to remind my colleagues that our work on election reform is far from completed. Unfortunately, this legislation does nothing to ensure that every citizen's vote counts in an election, something that is sorely needed in the wake of the Presidential election. If Congress is to truly restore the people's faith in our election system, we must ensure that every vote counts. On that matter, this legislation stands silent.

On the whole, however, this bill is a significant step forward. It should help restore citizens' faith in our electoral process. It also illustrates the Senate's ability to address issues of concern to the American people.

Mr. President, I cast my vote in favor of this much-needed reform.