President Obama is set to push the Senate on yet another piece of legislation in an afternoon speech -- this time one of his signature efforts that he promised back in January when the Supreme Court ruled that corporations and unions could give in an unlimited fashion to campaigns. Obama will push the Senate to pass the Disclose Act.
But with supporting hinging on two unlikely Republicans, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, it seems this is likely to end up being more a political exercise, with Democrats accusing the GOP of siding with big business and being the party of obstruction, and Republicans accusing Democrats of taking their eye off the economy/jobs ball, while striking a blow to free speech (the act of giving money to the candidate of choice, to many Republicans, is an act of free speech).
Senators on Tuesday at 2:45pm ET will vote on whether or not to start debate on a bill crafted by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., that would serve as Democrats' answer to the Supreme Court's Citizens United case.
Politics is the art of compromise, at times, and Schumer, realizing he had to at least try to court GOP support made a few tweaks to the House-passed bill in order to do so. But it's not clear if those tweaks will be enough to win the support of some Democrats.
Where the House carved out an exemption from new disclosure rules for unions, the NRA, the AARP, and other large membership groups, as well as a broad swath of nonprofits, in order to win votes, Schumer closes the door specifically on unions.
But that craveout for the politically powerful NRA is still there, one that Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Frank Lautenburg, D-N.J., gun control advocates, blasted when it was first conceived by bill sponsor, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. Even Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the Senate's #2 Dem, who has long fought for more public disclosure in campaigns (he's a top sponsor of a bill to mandate public financing of campaigns), said he would have to think twice about a special pass for the NRA.
John Gentzel, a Snowe spokesman, told Fox Monday that his boss had not yet decided how she would vote, but said "she has concerns about the bill."
Collins is undecided, as well, but senior GOP sources tell Fox Collins has privately expressed strong skepticism. And it is telling that Collins' former chief of staff, Steve Abbott, publicly blasted the legislation in the Bangor Daily News as "politics at its worst" and added, "Cynics would say that the only reason that Congress would make a major change to our campaign laws right before an election would be to help incumbents hold their power."
The Schumer re-write requires that unions, corporations, and nonprofits to disclose donor lists and put a disclaimer statement at the end of ads by the head of the organization, ala candidate campaign ads ("I'm Joe Smith, and I approve this message.")
The business community, led by the Chamber of Commerce, has mounted a tough campaign against this bill. Tuesday is sure see some fireworks, though sources on the Hill expect the Schumer bill to go down at the hands of a GOP filibuster.