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Dems' Campaign Finance Effort Near Defeat

Quick update on today's 2:45pm Senate cloture vote on whether or not to start debate on Senate Dems' campaign finance legislation known as the DISCLOSE Act.

It's all but a done deal that this vote will fail, as Sen Joe Lieberman's out attending a friend's funeral, according to a spokeswoman.

With GOP Sen Susan Collin's announced NO vote, that leaves Reid short at least TWO votes on cloture, though he's thought to be short more than that.

While Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, remains undecided, Sen Schumer, the bill's sponsor, admitted Monday that he is coming up short in his own party.

Sens Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif, and Frank Lautenberg, D-NJ, gun control advocates, have blasted a carve out, first authored in the House in order to get votes, that would leave large membership groups like the NRA outside the bill's disclosure requirements.

Schumer's legislation, unlike the House, would put unions back under the disclosure mandate, generally speaking.

Criticism of the bill, led most prominently by the Chamber of Commerce, has focused on what it sees as favoritism for one of the Democrats' top allies, the unions.

"The DISCLOSE Act is a perfect example of Washington politics at its absolute worst, and at a time when the country can afford it least. Legislation that silences incumbent politicians’ critics and exempts their political friends should never be considered in America," said Chamber President and CEO Thomas Donohue.

But unions, like the AFL-CIO, have voiced strong skepticism of the bill, though without yet taking a position on it.

The union's spokesman, Josh Goldstein, e-mailed to Fox Monday, "We are concerned that recent developments could hamper working families' ability to have a voice in the political process.

Still, Chamber of Commerce spokeswoman Blair Latoff said unions get special treatment under the Schumer bill, noting that

The legislation requires that unions and corporations spending on campaign ads not only place a "stand by your ad" disclaimer on the advertisement, ala political candidates ("I'm Joe Smith, and I approve the message."), but also disclose donor lists.

It's that last requirement, among others, that has that has the Chamber crying foul.

The Schumer bill requires disclosure of donors who contribute more than $600. Since union membership dues are often lower, that would likely put unions out of the reach of this portion of the bill.

"Corporate donors will regularly pass that low payment threshold, and will thus be disclosed," Latoff noted, unlike the unions.

But Schumer spokesman, Brian Fallon, said that this is a matter more of fair treatment, disclosing large corporate donors rather than many blue color workers who are union members.

It has been an ugly fight all year, mostly beneath the radar, with both sides knowing that they stand to benefit enormously depending on the outcome of this vote.