STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Later this summer, Republicans gather in Tampa for their presidential nominating convention. Democrats will then do the same in Charlotte. This year, each party gets more than $18 million in public funds to help pay for these political pow-wows. The money comes from that $3 check-off on your tax return. But this could be the last time that the party conventions get public funding. As NPR's David Welna reports, the Senate has just voted to end that practice.
DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: The amendment cutting off all public funding for conventions after this year is now part of a big farm bill that just passed the Senate. Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn co-sponsored the bipartisan ban.
SENATOR TOM COBURN: So we're borrowing money from the Chinese to fund a Hallelujah Party in both Tampa and Charlotte this year, each one of them getting $18.4 million. It's time that kind of nonsense stops.
WELNA: Coburn thought his measure would be defeated, but he was wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: On this vote, the yeas are 95, the nays are four.
WELNA: Louisiana's Mary Landrieu is one of the four Democrats who voted against cutting off public funding for conventions.
SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU: Otherwise, you're going to have only corporate money involved in conventions. And I think, frankly, you know, the public, you know, should have an opportunity to contribute if they want.
WELNA: But huge amounts of corporate money are already being spent at conventions. John McCain was the nominee at the GOP's last presidential convention in St. Paul.
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: With all the money that's flowing through the system today, the funding of the convention is a minor item.
WELNA: Last year, the Republican-run House also passed a ban on public funding for conventions that died in the Senate. With yesterday's vote, such a ban would now appear more likely.
David Welna, NPR News, the Capitol.
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