All Eyes on Toomey-Manchin Amendment as Reid's Gun Bill Advances
Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), who voted against the procedural motion, said on a conference call this morning that "days and if not a few weeks" of debate are ahead.
"I'm looking at some amendments myself. I must admit, I'm a little bit pessimistic that a bill that is shaped in this way can be changed sufficiently to get my vote," Johanns said. "But having said that, we'll see what transpires in the next couple of weeks."
Johanns is pushing a bill with Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) to study the exposure of kids to violent video games before rushing into any legislation called a solution. "This notion that somehow this is going to solve anything by taking an action that violates the Constitution, that creates a national gun registry is just so misguided, and, quite honestly, it isn't going to stop anything," he said.
Some GOP senators had correctly prophesized that the filibuster organized by Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), later joined by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and others, wouldn't hold.
Connecticut Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D) and Chris Murphy (D) said in a joint statement that the "brave families from Newtown who were in Washington this week truly turned the tide on this debate."
"Just four months ago, the conventional wisdom was that gun violence legislation would never go anywhere in the U.S. Congress. Today—thanks in large part to the courage and passion of the Newtown families—we have disproved this conventional wisdom," the senators said, dropping "Newtown" a total of five times in a 195-word statement.
Democrats Mark Begich (Alaska) and Mark Pryor (Ark.) voted no on cloture for Reid's bill.
“I’ve long believed we don’t need more laws restricting the Second Amendment rights of Americans, we need to better enforce those on the books," Begich said. “…I voted today against the so-called cloture motion because I strongly disagree with many of the provisions of the anti-gun legislation currently on the Senate floor."
White House press secretary Jay Carney called today's vote "a first stage in an effort to get sensible, common-sense legislation that would reduce gun violence in America while protecting Americans’ Second Amendment rights signed into law."
"There is still work to be done… But we certainly welcome this development."
Over in the House, Democrats were crying foul at a grassroots effort gathering steam to encourage Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to invoke the Hastert Rule -- the majority of the majority -- to prevent the Senate gun bill from being brought to the floor of the lower chamber.
Reps. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) and Steve Stockman (R-Texas) began circulating the letter among colleagues last week. A Stockman spokesman told PJM this afternoon that they're up to about 50 supporters.
The letter expresses "strong opposition to legislation requiring private sale background checks for firearms purchases."
"The so-called 'universal background check' system would be a violation of Constitutionally-guaranteed rights on an unprecedented scale. The principle that no person can purchase or sell a firearm without first receiving government permission transforms the Second Amendment from a 'right' that should be protected by the government into a privilege granted by the government," it continues.
"Under the precedents and traditions of the House, we would ask that no gun legislation be brought to the floor of the House unless it has the support of a majority of our caucus."