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 UdallTom UdallFCC chair: Trump hasn't tried to intervene on Time Warner merger Overnight Finance: GOP divided over welfare cuts in budget | Lawmaker loses M on pharma stock he pitched | Yellen says another financial crisis unlikely in our lifetimes Overnight Regulation: EPA moves to repeal Obama water rule | Labor chief to review overtime rule | Record fine for Google 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 McCainSenate healthcare bill appears headed for failure Trump backers eye GOP primary challenges for Flake, Heller Manchin bashes GOP candidate for pushing McCain to resign MORE (R-Ariz) and Thad CochranThad CochranOvernight Finance: GOP offers measure to repeal arbitration rule | Feds fine Exxon M for Russian sanctions violations | Senate panel sticks with 2017 funding levels for budget | Trump tax nominee advances | Trump unveils first reg agenda Senate committee ignores Trump, House budgets in favor of 2017 funding levels Overnight Finance: CBO finds 22M more uninsured under Senate health bill | GOP agrees ObamaCare taxes must go | Supreme Court to look at Dodd-Frank whistleblower protections | More tax reform hearings | Green light for partial travel ban | 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 SandersBernie SandersSanders keeping door open on 2020 Parliamentarian deals setback to GOP repeal bill OPINION | Hey Dems, Russia won't define 2018, so why not fix your party's problems instead? 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 FrankenAl FrankenFranken: Trump Jr., Manafort need to testify under oath Trump's DOJ gears up for crackdown on marijuana Sunday shows preview: Scaramucci makes TV debut as new communication chief 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.”