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 UdallNew Mexico senators request probe into militia group detaining migrants Latino group urges state lawmaker to make primary challenge to Democrat for Georgia House seat Embattled senators fill coffers ahead of 2020 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 McCainWhy did Mueller allow his investigation to continue for two years? If you don't think illegal immigrants are voting for president, think again 10 factors making Russia election interference the most enduring scandal of the Obama era 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) SandersDemocrats' CNN town halls exposed an extreme agenda Buttigieg says he doubts Sanders can win general election Meghan McCain: Bernie Sanders supporting prisoners being able to vote 'bats**t insane' 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 FrankenWinners and losers from first fundraising quarter Election analyst says Gillibrand doesn't have 'horsepower to go the full distance' Gillibrand campaign links low fundraising to Al Franken backlash: memo 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.”