Udall courting GOP support ahead of campaign finance vote

The Democratic sponsor of a constitutional amendment seeking to overturn the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling said Monday he is in discussions with key GOP colleagues about backing the measure.

Sen. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallIT modernization measure included in Senate-approved defense policy bill Live coverage: Sanders rolls out single-payer bill Where Dems stand on Sanders's single-payer bill MORE (D-N.M.) expressed optimism that the amendment would get at least a measure of Republican support, and said there could be days of debate before a final Senate vote on the issue.

The upper chamber is expected to vote Monday evening on whether to proceed to the amendment, which would give Congress power to regulate campaign spending on federal races.

The proposal is the latest incarnation of an amendment first introduced more than 30 years ago, and some Republicans have supported the idea in the past, Udall said. 

“We’re hearing that we may have Saxby,” Udall said, referring to Sen. Saxby ChamblissSaxby ChamblissFormer GOP senator: Let Dems engage on healthcare bill OPINION: Left-wing politics will be the demise of the Democratic Party GOP hopefuls crowd Georgia special race MORE (R-Ga.). Attempts to reach Chambliss’s office for comment were not immediately successful.

Udall said he was also talking to Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainSenate's defense authorization would set cyber doctrine Senate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions MORE (R-Ariz) and Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranMcConnell tees up debt, government-funding vote National Flood Insurance Program is the next storm for hurricane survivors Trump exempts Citgo from Venezuela sanctions MORE (R-Miss.), adding that “both of them have either been on the amendment or voted for the amendment.”

He said Democrats have been told that Republicans would likely not seek to block debate.

“It may not be voted down,” he said of the preliminary cloture vote. “We’re going to go on this all week, from what I’m hearing.”

Liberals in Congress have rallied behind the proposal, a response to the Citizens United case, which allowed corporations to spend more freely on politics.

A group of Democrats, along with Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill Dems fear lasting damage from Clinton-Sanders fight MORE (I-Vt.), called Monday for passage of the amendment during a news conference outside the Capitol. They said it is necessary to counter an explosion of money in American politics that has given the wealthy outsize influence over the electoral process. 

“This is the most important issue we have discussed in a matter of years,” Sanders said.

Added Udall: "Our elections are not auctions — up to the highest bidder."

Regardless of the outcome of the Senate debate, the chances of enactment are less than slim, given that amendments to the Constitution require a two-thirds vote in both chambers of Congress and must be ratified by three quarters of the states.

Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenGOP eying 'blue slip' break to help Trump fill the courts Overnight Regulation: FTC launches probe into Equifax | Dems propose tougher data security rules | NYC aims to slash greenhouse gas emissions | EPA to reconsider Obama coal ash rule Overnight Cybersecurity: Kaspersky to testify before House | US sanctions Iranians over cyberattacks | Equifax reveals flaw that led to hack MORE (D-Minn.), a vocal backer of the measure, acknowledged the unlikelihood of success this year, but noted that previous constitutional amendments took many years to realize.

“Maybe not this Congress,” he said. “But we’re in it for the long haul.”