WASHINGTON, June 26
All eyes will be on the Senate today when it proceeds to the Flag Desecration Amendment for debate at 4:00 pm ET. No vote is expected before Tuesday.
With the majority whip set to vote against the measure, who is whipping the majority? And who is in charge of making sure that Democrats with past support for such an effort stay in line?
In order to help you understand the debate and its context, The Note offers the following lists and transcripts:
Here is the list of national political reporters who think amending the constitution to allow for the outlawing of flag burning is a good idea: LINK
Here is a full transcript of all conversations involving Gang of 500 members of the media in which they discuss the difficulty of keeping their pro-amendment bias from infecting their coverage of the issue: LINK
Here is the list of elected officials who currently hold national office who think that it is substantively important to pass such an amendment: LINK
Here is a list of all the former chiefs of staff to Republican presidents who think it is substantively important to pass such an amendment: LINK
ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf reports that as of Friday there were between 66 and the magical 67 Senators (including 52 Republicans and 14 confirmed Democrats) who appeared open to a flag desecration amendment. By our count, there aren't a lot of whole numbers between 66 and 67.
Janet Hook of the Los Angeles Times had Leader/Dr./Sen. Frist chief of staff Eric Ueland in Sunday's newspaper saying the flag amendment "will win or lose by a vote." LINK
The fourteen Democrats who have expressed support for the amendment under consideration are Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN),), Sen. Mark Dayton (D-MN), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), and Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO) and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
The only Republicans against the amendment are Sen. Robert Bennett (R-UT), Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
There is at least one catch: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the chief proponent of a flag amendment, might think he has found the necessary 67 votes, but Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), one of the supporters of the amendment, has been out for several months recovering from back surgery. His aides say he is due to return this week. But if he doesn't, the vote will be one short.
Another thing to consider is that amendment foes might be able to get Sen. Dayton, who is retiring, to switch to "no" in order to block passage of the amendment. Or some other Democrat might fall under the hypnotic spell of Bob Kerrey.
Anti-amendment Democrats like Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) may also team with Sen. Bennett to push alternative legislation that would attempt to ban some forms of flag desecration (in a way that the Supreme Court finds permissible) without amending the Constitution, thus giving potential cover to some lawmakers who have supported the amendment in the past, but are having second thoughts now.