Senate Votes to Advance Gun Debate

The Senate took a procedural vote Thursday on whether it will allow formal consideration of a firearm reform package to move forward. Sixteen Republicans were among the senators who advanced the legislation by a comfortable 68-31 margin. Only two Democrats voted against the measure, including vulnerable red-state Democrat Mark Pryor of Arkansas, who will soon be up for re-election.

However, a “yes” vote at this stage in the process does not necessarily translate into support for the eventual gun-control bill, which has not yet been officially pieced together. Majority Leader Harry Reid could face an uphill battle to secure the 60 votes he will need to pass the final measure, especially if GOP senators attempt a filibuster to delay the vote down the road.

A bipartisan deal brokered earlier this week by Sens. Joe Manchin (D- W. Va) and Pat Toomey (R- Pa) expanding background checks has been cause for optimism for many legislators who had all but given up on their crusade for tighter gun laws. Provisions of their bill include adding more ‘prohibited purchaser’ names to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), compelling non-licensed dealers on or near gun show premises to run checks on their customers, and closing a ‘loophole’ that allows online firearm transactions within the same state to occur without checks.The Toomey-Manchin effort will be the first amendment to Harry Reid’s existing gun package that will be examined on the floor.

Even if the legislation survives the Senate, it must still pass through the GOP-controlled House before it can become the law of the land. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has remained mum on how he will vote on any legislation that the Senate hands him.

“As I’ve made clear, any bill that passes the Senate, we’re going to review it,” Boehner stated after a House Republican conference Wednesday. “We’re going to wait and see what actually passes over in the Senate.”

Obama and Democrats in Congress would put an enormous amount of pressure on Boehner to allow a full vote if the Senate can get its bipartisan bill through, putting the Speaker in a difficult position. Most House Republicans will dig in their heels if such a measure comes their way- though Toomey has expressed confidence that “there are substantial numbers of House Republicans that are supportive of this general approach.”

Instead of asserting any position on the background check expansion currently on the table, Boehner raised concerns that laws already in place aren’t being enforced.

“We’re not enforcing the laws we have on the books today,” the Republican leader said, “and so if we’re going to have a background check that’s in the law, let’s make sure we do a real background check, which, in not all cases, actually happens.”


1 Comment

  1. April 11, 2013  6:41 pm by Rosalie Reply

    I'm sorry I voted for Toomey.

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