Bad Signs For Gun Control In The Senate
A little noticed test vote may bode ill for gun control legislation in the Senate:
A little-noticed Senate vote just before 4 in the morning on March 23 — amid the chamber’s 13-hour vote-a-rama on a fiscal 2014 budget resolution — suggests trouble for President Barack Obama’s gun control agenda.
Senators voted 50-49 in favor of an amendment by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, to establish a two-thirds requirement for the passage of any gun control legislation in their chamber. While the budget resolution is nonbinding and the amendment did not win the 60 votes needed to be adopted, the outcome underscores how many senators strongly support gun rights, just as the chamber prepares to debate the biggest package of gun control measures in nearly two decades.
Six Democrats from gun-friendly states joined a nearly united Republican conference to support Lee’s amendment: Max Baucus of Montana, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Mark Pryor of Arkansas.
All of those senators are being watched closely — and lobbied heavily — ahead of the Senate showdown on Obama’s gun measures when lawmakers return from their two-week recess in early April.
Only one Republican, Mark S. Kirk of Illinois, broke ranks with the GOP and voted against Lee’s amendment. Both independents, Angus King of Maine and Bernard Sanders of Vermont, also voted against it. Frank R. Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat and strong supporter of gun control legislation, missed the vote.
Lee’s amendment sought to require a 67-vote supermajority for Senate passage of all future restrictions on firearms and ammunition, and it used a broad definition of the term “gun control.” For example, beyond requiring the heightened vote threshold for a proposed ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, the amendment also would have required it for any bill that “requires background checks through a federal firearms licensee for private transfer of firearms.”
And this was on a non-binding resolution.