Harry Reid wanted to push the DISCLOSE Act through the Senate today in a last-ditch effort to get the badly flawed campaign finance bill passed before Congress goes into recess. Fortunately, it appears that the effort may be heading for the ditch. Susan Collins (R-ME) declared last night that she would oppose the bill, ending the last hope of getting Republican support for the cloture vote:
On a conference call with reporters today, Sen. Chuck Schumer said he’s “working very hard on getting a Republican” to support his version of the campaign-finance reform bill known as the Disclose Act. He added that “there are a number of possibilities.”
But with the measure slated for a Senate vote tomorrow, he can cross Sen. Susan Collins of Maine off his list of potential supporters. Collins said through a spokesman this afternoon that she will not support the bill in its current form.
“The bill would provide a clear and unfair advantage to unions, while either shutting other organizations out of the election process or subjecting them to onerous reporting requirements that would not apply to unions,” Collins’ press secretary Kevin Kelley told ABC News.
“Senator Collins also believes that it is ironic that a bill aimed at curtailing special interests in the election process provides so many carve outs and exemptions that favor some grassroots organizations over others. This too is simply unfair.”
There doesn’t appear to be anyone who would take Collins’ place. Now, according to The Corner, Schumer can’t even count on all of his own caucus for support. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) will miss the cloture vote, making it near impossible for Reid and Schumer to get cloture.
What next? As The Hill reports, Reid and Obama need this bill to pacify the Left:
While conservative grassroots enthusiasm has spawned the Tea Party movement, liberal activists have lodged a list of disappointments with their party, including the collapse of the public healthcare option and climate change legislation, the decision to boost troop levels in Afghanistan and the continued operation of the Guantánamo Bay prison camp.
The campaign finance bill is a top concern for liberals, who want lawmakers to take a strong stand against corporate special interests, such as health insurance companies, investment banks and oil companies.
Except, of course, that the bill is filled with exceptions to the restrictions. Unions and establishment interest groups won’t have to deal with the DISCLOSE Act’s limitations, but newer grassroots organizations will have to live within its boundaries. It’s a shameless pander to unions and big special interest groups, and is almost certainly unconstitutional anyway. It’s best aspect is that it’s an appeasement to the Democratic base that has angrily denounced their leadership.
If Lieberman is a no show, Reid will have to pull the bill back. It’s doubtful that it will come back again before the election if he does, but vigilance will be necessary to ensure its defeat.
Update II: The Daily Caller has more on Lieberman’s absence:
Lieberman is attending a funeral service and will not be in Washington, spokeswoman Erika Masonhall said.
The odds of passage for DISCLOSE were already low, with all Republicans but one — Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine — certain to vote against it. But there was still hope for some on the left that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, would be able to pull together the votes.
But Lieberman’s absence means that even if Snowe were to vote for the bill, Reid would still be one vote short.
Update III: Scott Brown announced his opposition on Twitter.
Update IV: This should put a stake through the heart of DISCLOSE:
Moderate Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, just told reporters she will not support proceeding with debate on a campaign finance bill, known as the DISCLOSE Act, a move that signals the end of the road for this legislation for now.
Complaining that there have been “no hearings, no vetting, no attempt to bring people together,” Snowe touted her own past work on the issue and added, “I know the new routine on legislation these days is to ram and jam…but it really does take time…It really does require building a consensus.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, a gun control advocate, said she will support Democratic leaders’ effort to start debate on the legislation, but spokesman Gil Duran says the senator will not support the bill on final passage. And Feinstein told reporters moments ago that if today’s vote were one to shut off debate and move to final passage, she, too, would be a ‘no’ vote.
Feinstein would oppose it? Dude, it’s dead.
Update (AP): Graham, Collins, Brown, and Snowe answer the bell and a united GOP front sends DISCLOSE down to defeat, 57-41. Can I get a “whoooooa RINOS”?