By Peter J. Smith

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 24, 2010 ( – The Democrat leaders in the U.S. Senate now lack the votes to overcome a Republican filibuster on a campaign finance disclosure bill that threatens the ability of grassroots political organizations, and the pro-life movement, to communicate effectively with voters during election cycles.

The Democrat-controlled Senate is expected to attempt a cloture vote Tuesday on the “Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act” (S.3628). Similar legislation was already passed by the House in June.

However, as of this afternoon, Democrats are two votes short of the 60 “yes” votes they need to invoke cloture, end the GOP filibuster and proceed with debate.

At first, Democrats were looking for just one GOP member to join their 59-member caucus in a cloture vote. However, the Democrat number dropped to 58, after Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) announced that he had to attend a friend’s funeral on the day of the vote. That requires the Democrats to look for two GOP votes to overcome the filibuster.

Democrats targeted Maine's moderate GOP Senators, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, by making minor modifications to the bill from the House version (HR 5175).

However, Collins made clear on Monday her position is “no.”

That led Democrats to focus on Snowe, who must face re-election in two years. Democratic strategists hoped that Snowe might be persuaded to cast a “yes” vote to gain her political points in Maine.

But Snowe told reporters today that she would not break from the GOP filibuster. According to FOX News, Snowe described current Senate routine as a “ram and jam” process, and criticized the lack of hearings and attempts at building legislative consensus.

The same report also indicates that support for the DISCLOSE Act may be cracking, as the AFL-CIO, America’s largest federation of trade unions, has now sent a letter to its members “reluctantly” opposing the bill. The letter states that the bill, “imposes extraordinary new, costly, and impractical record-keeping and reporting obligations on thousands of labor (and other non-profit) organizations … without any corresponding public benefit.”

Even the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has denounced the bill as a threat to free speech and crippling to free participation in the political process.

National Right to Life Committee’s (NRLC) Legislative Director Doug Johnson told Monday that the bill “would substantially reduce the amount of information reaching the public about what federal office holders are doing about pro-life issues.”

NRLC sent a detailed letter to the Senate strongly opposing the measure, warning that a vote for cloture would count against individual senators on NRLC’s legislative scorecard.

For further background on the DISCLOSE Act, see previous coverage:

Breaking: Senate Readies Tuesday Cloture Vote on DISCLOSE Act

House Passes DISCLOSE Act: Pro-Life/Grassroots Muzzle Bill Goes to Senate

Breaking: House Dems Preparing Thursday DISCLOSE Act Vote to Muzzle Pro-life, Pro-family Groups

Congress to Vote on DISCLOSE Act – Condemned by Pro-Life, Pro-Family Groups