Dueling Clotures

“In both instances we agree,” said Majority Whip John Cornyn, TX, earlier today. “Terrorists should not have guns.”

The Junior senator from California, Barbara Boxer, went further and said of assault weapons: “those weapons have no business being in civilian hands.”

By the time the Senate adjourned though, just after 7:30 tonight, all motions to invoke cloture on pieces of legislation with varying degrees of gun control provisions failed to reach the 60 votes necessary to make the issue the unfinished business of the upper chamber.

Mr. Cornyn’s amendment came closest, attaining a 53-47 majority vote on cloture. That still fell seven votes short of the three-fifths majority required for a cloture motion to pass. His amendment to the Commerce, Justice, and Science Act would have empowered the Attorney General’s office to delay for three days the sale of a firearm to an individual suspected of terrorism. The Justice Department would then have to build a case proving a suspected terrorist’s link to terrorist activity.

Pat Toomey, R-PA, said that the legislation didn’t have much of a chance of passing, and that it would be unworkable and “difficult” for an Attorney General to build a case in 3 days. Nor did he have much hope for the legislation originating from the Democratic side of the aisle.

“We know the Feinstein bill is going to fail, we know the Cornyn bill is going to fail,” he told the floor, and proposed that the Senate would be better served considering legislation he was working on, or that of Susan Collins, the Republican Senator of Maine.

The Securing Our Homeland from Radical Islamists and Enhancing Law Enforcement Detection Act, also known as the SHIELD Act was offered as an alternative by Mr. Cornyn to the senior Californian Senator Dianne Feinstein’s(D) amendment, which would prohibit the sale of firearms to those suspected of terrorism.

Mrs. Feinstein’s amendment was also defeated in a cloture vote, falling 47- 53.

Chris Murphy, D-CT, who last Thursday filibustered the Senate floor for nearly 15 hours to force a spotlight onto the gun control debate, also had an amendment defeated. But for defeat by a 44-56 margin, the Murphy amendment would have mandated universal background checks on gun sales. The Senate floor buzzed with conversation during the cloture motion.

Before the vote began, Mr. Murphy expressed his reservations that any of his desired legislation would pass. But he was pleased that his filibuster had forced the votes, saying that before he made it “this body was going to ignore what happened,” in reference to the June 13th mass shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, which killed 49 people and left dozens more injured.

And he emphasized the value of the votes in showing the position of the Senators to the American people.

“We are at least going to be able to see where people stand.”

He finished by condemning the alternate pieces of legislation, calling them “shields for members who don’t want to do the right thing.”

by Marlon J. Ettinger


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