House to Vote on Ending Public Financing for Campaigns

The U.S. House plans to vote on a proposal to end the system of financing presidential candidates and national conventions with federal funds, according to a Republican aide.

Leaders of the House Republican majority have said they will vote on at least one bill cutting federal spending each week. Ending the public finance system for presidential campaigns will be the measure offered next week, said the aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The legislation would require candidates and political parties to rely solely on private donations. Such a measure would save $520 million over a decade, according to the website for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican.

Currently, taxpayers can direct $3 of their personal income taxes into a fund that matches campaign contributions to presidential candidates in the party primaries who agree to limit their spending in seeking the nomination. The fund also fully pays for the general election campaigns of nominees who agree not to raise private funds except for legal and accounting expenses, and covers the costs of each party’s national convention.

Former President George W. Bush, a Republican, in 2000 became the first major-party presidential nominee to forgo federal funds for the primaries. President Barack Obama, a Democrat, in 2008 became the first nominee under the federal financing system to raise money privately for the general election campaign.

Obama spent about $350 million after officially becoming the Democratic nominee in late August, Federal Election Commission filings show.

His Republican opponent, Senator John McCain of Arizona, accepted the $84 million in federal funds allotted that year for the general election. McCain is known as a champion of public financing and was one of the two original sponsors of campaign finance reform legislation.

To contact the reporters on this story: Lisa Lerer in Washington at llerer@bloomberg.net; Jonathan D. Salant in Washington at jsalant@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva in Washington at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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