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 UdallOvernight Health Care: Democratic bill would require insurance to cover OTC birth control | House Dems vote to overturn ban on fetal tissue research | New rule aims to expand health choices for small businesses Overnight Health Care: Democratic bill would require insurance to cover OTC birth control | House Dems vote to overturn ban on fetal tissue research | New rule aims to expand health choices for small businesses Hillicon Valley: House Judiciary opens antitrust probe of tech giants | Senate to receive election security briefing | Quest Diagnostics breach exposes data on 11.9 million patients | House sets hearing on 'deepfakes' 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 ChamblissRepublicans say Democrats holding up disaster relief as 'Sandy payback' Ex-House Intel chair: Intel panel is wrong forum to investigate Trump's finances The Hill's Morning Report - Trump budget reignites border security fight 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 McCain#JohnMcCainDay trends on Trump's 73rd birthday #JohnMcCainDay trends on Trump's 73rd birthday New poll finds little GOP support for spending cuts to specific federal programs MORE (R-Ariz) and Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump turns the page back to Mueller probe Trump praises Thad Cochran: 'A real senator with incredible values' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump, Democrats deal with Mueller fallout 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 SandersConfused by polls? Watch early primary states — not national numbers Confused by polls? Watch early primary states — not national numbers Biden leads in early voting states, followed by Warren, Sanders: poll 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 FrankenThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Mexican officials scramble to avoid Trump tariffs The Hill's 12:30 Report: Mexican officials scramble to avoid Trump tariffs The Hill's Morning Report - Tariff battle looms as Trump jabs 'foolish' Senate GOP 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.”