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05/03/98- Updated 05:27 PM ET

GOP might delay fundraising issue

WASHINGTON - House Republican leaders intend to delay at least some of the key votes on campaign finance legislation until June, in part because California Gov. Pete Wilson is afraid of undermining a statewide ballot proposition that would limit union political activity.

Wilson wants to make sure there's no vote on the so-called "paycheck protection" issue on the House floor under after his state's June 2 primary, according to several GOP sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The House rejected an amendment in March that would give union members the right to keep their dues from being spent on political activity. Lawmakers are likely to reject the proposal again when the issue resurfaces on the floor. The AFL-CIO and most Democrats oppose the measure. Republicans generally favor it, since organized labor generally backs Democratic candidates.

The GOP sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Wilson is concerned that a negative vote on the House floor could cause a statewide ballot issue on the same subject to lose momentum.

At the same time, House Republicans believe that passage of the California initiative would give impetus to the issue when it comes up on the House floor. A poll taken six weeks ago showed 60% support for the union dues initiative in California.

"I personally think it would be very instructive to find out how a state of 32 million people thinks before we take up the same issue on the floor," said Rep. Christopher Cox, R-Calif.

Confronted with a rebellion within his own ranks, Speaker Newt Gingrich agreed recently to allow an open debate on campaign finance legislation before Congress' Memorial Day recess. The current prospect is to begin debate on the issue in May, but defer at least some of the votes until the following month.

Wilson's office did not return a phone call for comment.

By The Associated Press

Copyright 1998 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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