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 UdallHillicon Valley: House panel takes on election security | DOJ watchdog eyes employee texts | Senate Dems urge regulators to block T-Mobile, Sprint deal | 'Romance scams' cost victims 3M in 2018 Dems urge regulators to reject T-Mobile, Sprint merger Dems wary of killing off filibuster 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 ChamblissClarence (Saxby) Saxby ChamblissSenate buzz grows for Abrams after speech electrifies Dems Ossoff tests waters for Georgia Senate run CIA's ‘surveillance state’ is operating against us all 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 McCainGabbard hits back at Meghan McCain after fight over Assad Mellman: Where are good faith and integrity? GOP senator says Republicans didn't control Senate when they held majority MORE (R-Ariz) and Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranTop 5 races to watch in 2019 Bottom Line Races Dems narrowly lost show party needs to return to Howard Dean’s 50 state strategy 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) SandersSanders endorses Oakland teachers strike Dem strategist says Clinton ‘absolutely’ has a role to play in 2020 News media has sought to 'delegitimize' Tulsi Gabbard, says liberal journalist 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 FrankenVirginia can be better than this Harris off to best start among Dems in race, say strategists, donors Virginia scandals pit Democrats against themselves and their message 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.”