DISCLOSE Dissed

Sam Stein at Huffington Post:

Senate Democrats will be one vote down when they consider sweeping campaign finance disclosure legislation this afternoon as Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn) has told party leadership he will miss the vote to attend a friend’s funeral.

The senator’s absence reduces the caucus’s numbers from 59 to 58 voting members, all but assuring that the DICLOSE Act won’t pass when it comes up for a cloture vote Tuesday afternoon. The legislation’s authors were already having difficulty finding a 60th vote to break a likely Republican filibuster. Without Lieberman, they will need two Republicans to cross party lines as opposed to one. Already two of the three most likely defectors — Sens. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) — have said they will oppose the measure.

The concern, said the leadership aide, “is that it will allow [Senator Olympia] Snowe (R-Maine) to vote yes and yet we fall short.”

Lieberman’s office did not immediately return request for comment from the Huffington Post. But a spokesperson confirmed the absence to Fox News.

Ben Smith at Politico:

Senate Democratic leaders have received a commitment from Independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut to vote “yes” to invoke cloture on the DISCLOSE Act when he returns after attending a funeral, according to two senior Democratic aides.

UPDATE: Lieberman spokesman Marshall Wittmann confirms: “Sen. Lieberman told Sen. [Harry] Reid this morning that he will vote for the cloture motion, but says he cannot vote for the bill itself in its current form.”

Lieberman hadn’t publicly staked out a position on the controversial campaign finance measure — and he won’t be in the chamber to vote on the cloture motion today — but he told leadership he would be with them in the likely event of a revote later, sources said.

That doesn’t mean that Lieberman will ultimately vote for the measure.

His office had no immediate comment other than to say Lieberman could not be immediately reached.

Greg Sargent:

Senator Ben Nelson’s spokesman, Jake Thompson, confirms that Nelson will vote Yes. “He will vote for cloture on the Disclose Act,” Thompson emails. “It’s all about transparency.”

That removes one more element of suspense. And a quick clarification on what I wrote below: Senator Lieberman is in fact not in the Senate today, so it can’t get the 60 votes it needs today. But here’s where it gets interesting.

Snowe, who is up for reelection in two years and is expected to face blowback if she votes No, can in fact vote Yes today. Because of Lieberman’s absence, she would not be ensuring that it would pass, sparing her the wrath of Mitch McConnell, who is trying to keep the GOP caucus united against it.

But: A senior Dem Senate aide tells me that if Snowe does this, the measure could be brought up for a vote again when Lieberman is present, putting pressure on her to maintain her Yes vote. So again, as long as the odds are, this could still end up passing.

Jacob Sullum at Reason:

Fox News reports that “the DISCLOSE Act appears to stand no chance of passage this session” now that the Republican senators deemed most likely to support the bill, Maine’s Olympia Snow and Susan Collins, have announced their opposition. The Democrats are yet another vote short on today’s motion to proceed with debate because Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) is attending a funeral. And to really rub it in, the AFL-CIO officially turned against the bill today:

William Samuel, director of the union’s government affairs department, makes clear in a strongly-worded statement to members that though the AFL-CIO opposes the measure “reluctantly,” it nevertheless feels the bill “imposes extraordinary new, costly, and impractical record-keeping and reporting obligations on thousands of labor (and other non-profit) organizations,” adding that the bill “would disrupt the operation of thousands of organizations without any corresponding public benefit.”

Previous coverage of the DISCLOSE Act here.

Update: The Democrats fell three votes shy of the 60 needed to advance the bill. The Center for Competitive Politics reacts.

Nicole Allan at The Atlantic:

In a vote that could have a tangible effect on midterm elections in November, the Senate today denied cloture to the DISCLOSE Act, which would increase transparency of corporate spending in political campaigns. With the August recess drawing nearer and midterm elections around the corner, this vote has been built up as a political play for both sides. Democrats want to discourage corporate backing of Republican candidates, and Republicans want to smooth the way for corporate donors as midterm campaigns heat up.

Obama rallied for the bill in a Rose Garden speech yesterday, chiding Republicans for obstructing its passage. “You would think that reducing corporate and even foreign influence over our elections would not be a partisan issue,” Obama said. “But of course this is Washington in 2010.”

Democrats needed 60 votes today to ensure that the bill would reach the floor for debate. Nebraska’s Ben Nelson, who voted against the McCain-Feingold campaign finance act in 2002, had his fellow Democrats on their toes until his spokesman announced this morning that he would vote yes. Republicans Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and Scott Brown were all potential yes votes that did not come through. John McCain, despite his prior advocacy of campaign finance reform, voted no. Without a single Republican vote, Democrats could not reach 60.

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