January 25th, 2011
03:09 PM ET
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A Republican-backed bill to halt public financing of presidential campaigns and conventions is coming under fire from the White House.
In a strongly worded statement, the Office of Management and Budget said the House bill, known as H.R. 359, would "expand the power of corporations and special interests in the nation's elections," and that it would "force candidates into an endless cycle of fundraising at the expense of engagement with voters on the issues."
"The administration strongly opposes [the bill]."
The current system was put in place in the wake of the Watergate scandal as a way to avoid private influence in the public process. It took the pressure off qualified presidential candidates by giving them the option of accepting matching funds and grants.
But Republicans who have been pushing for more spending cuts see an opportunity to save money, to the tune of $520 million over the next 10 years.
While the White House said this 1970's era system does need to be modernized, the OMB insisted it should be "fixed rather than dismantled."
"This is not the time to further empower the special interests or to obstruct the work of reform," the statement said.
Republicans, who control the House, are scheduled to vote on the legislation Wednesday. If it passes there, it's unlikely the Democratic-controlled Senate would follow.
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