“The Senate is acknowledging that we’re in an Internet age”


I just had a call from Howard Gantman in Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office (for the record, I had forgotten that I told their press office I wanted to hear by today or tomorrow, so of course it’s not Gantman’s fault for not getting back to me before I posted this item a short while ago–it’s mine).

I asked about the option of putting S. 223 on the calendar — Gantman pointed to Sen. Russ Feingold’s remarks which he said do a fine job of describing the difficulties of going that route — you need 60 votes for cloture, then the bill is open for debate and amendment in what is a very crowded Senate schedule, and added that, “The only way this bill can make it through is as a stand alone bill.”

If amendments are tacked on — and Gantman suggested that the bill would be a “magnet” for various campaign finance reform measures — it becomes much harder to pass.

Gantman drew an obvious distinction between S. 223 and those other measures, like, say, 527 reform. “This isn’t a campaign finance measure,” he said. “Pure and simple, the Senate is acknowledging that we’re in an Internet age and these records can be filed online.”

He also noted that, in the coming weeks, the Senate will be considering measures related to the war in Iraq, immigration and the budget–getting a week or two to debate S. 223 seems like a long shot.

I asked whether there was anything unprecedented about moving for unanimous consent for S. 223. (Some of the Republican staffers that Liz Mair spoke to suggested that it wasn’t the bill but the procedure that had led to an objection.) Gantman said there are hundreds of such votes in the Senate. Some days, there are dozens that get passed. (Update: Here are two such votes from today…)

Gantman also said that there’s still hope that the bill can get unanimous consent. The Senator who objected to S. 223 could withdraw the objection, making the alternative scenario — of having the Majority Leader place it on the calendar — moot. Or the anonymous Senator could come forward to explain his objections, and those who supporting the bill could answer or address those concerns.

If I hear back from anyone else, I’ll post the info…