One of three senators who have threatened to filibuster gun-control legislation today accused President Obama of continuing to “use the tragedy at Newtown as a backdrop for pushing legislation that would have done nothing to prevent that horrible crime.”
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said his notification to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that he and Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) will “exercise our procedural right to require a 60-vote threshold in order to bring any of the president’s proposals to the floor” is based on three reasons.
He also announced on Twitter just after this statement that Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) signed on to the threat.
“First, as we saw last week with a vote on my amendment to establish a two-thirds requirement for the passage of any new gun legislation, virtually all Republicans and at least six Democrats believe that new gun legislation should have overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate before it becomes law,” Lee said.
Democrats Max Baucus of Montana, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Mark Pryor of Arkansas supported Lee’s amendment. Only one Republicans, Mark Kirk of Illinois, voted against it.
“Second, this debate is about more than magazine clips and pistol grips. It is about the purpose of the Second Amendment and why our constitutionally protected right to self-defense is an essential part of self-government,” Lee continued. “Any legislation that would restrict our basic right to self-defense deserves robust and open debate. Requiring a 60-vote threshold helps ensure that we have that debate rather than skipping directly to the back room deals, horse trading, and business-as-usual politics that typifies the way Congress passes legislation today.”
Before Congress left for the Easter recess, Reid began procedural motions to launch debate after the upper chamber returns in April.
“Finally, many of the current gun proposals are constitutionally problematic. Altering the application of constitutional protections should require approval by a supermajority of Congress. With a 60-vote threshold, we are seeking to ensure that a bare majority does not jeopardize the basic rights of the American people,” Lee concluded.
“The Senate — and the American people — have an important debate ahead of us. I look forward to this debate and hope that others Senators join me, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz in demanding that our discussions take place in full view of the American people.”
UPDATE: Rubio statement on joining the effort of Lee, et al: “We should look for ways to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill prone to misusing them, but I oppose legislation that will be used as a vehicle to impose new Second Amendment restrictions on responsible, law-abiding gun owners. We should work to reduce tragic acts of violence by addressing violence at its source, including untreated mental illness, the lack of adequate information-sharing on mental health issues, and the breakdown of the family.”