Senate ends gun control filibuster, but GOP still skeptical of bill
In a bipartisan vote Thursday, the Senate voted to override a filibuster and proceed with debate on a package of gun control bills. But support for debate doesn't mean support for the bill.
The initial showdown on a Republican filibuster of new gun laws went down with a whimper.Skip to next paragraph
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The Senate voted, 68 to 31, Thursday to begin formal debate of fresh gun legislation. Sixteen Republicans joined all but two Democrats in pushing support above the 60-vote threshold needed to begin the process of amending and, eventually, attempting to pass the bill, which has been a top priority for President Obama since the massacre in Newtown, Conn., last year.
But those 16 Republicans are by no means all "yes" votes when the bill eventually comes to a final vote. Indeed, with their comments Thursday, some Republicans suggested that battle lines have been clearly drawn: They will have to be convinced that this package of gun legislation can have any meaningful effect whatsoever.
Republicans don’t believe the legislation’s current mix of grants for greater school safety, stiffer penalties for gun trafficking and straw purchases, and extending background checks to gun sales done online and at gun shows will do anything to stem gun violence. Moreover, they worry that the legislation infringes on Second Amendment rights.
This could be a blow to the prospects for Wednesday's bipartisan deal between Sens. Joe Manchin (D) of West Virginia and Pat Toomey (R) of Pennsylvania, which would expand background checks, and which will be offered as the first amendment to the bill when the Senate reconvenes next week.
Because the background check requirement does not extend to private sales outside gun shows, “what everybody at the gun shows in Oklahoma is going to do is make a deal with the guy at the gun show and buy it later,” says Sen. Tom Coburn (R) of Oklahoma, who at one point worked to find a background check compromise, and who will offer his own amendment on the point. “So what have you accomplished?”
Democrats, however, say the measures in the legislation are effective and constitutionally viable ways to help curtail gun crimes.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D) of Virginia called the background-check provision, in particular, a “big step forward” and notes that even getting to a full debate on guns in the Senate for the first time in nearly 20 years is a significant achievement.