The Senate is invoking a cloture vote on amendments offered by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) that would expand background checks and permit the attorney general to prevent anyone with a "reasonable belief" of having terrorist ties from purchasing firearms. These legislative measures come after the horrific Orlando attack, where 49 people were shot and killed by Omar Mateen, who pledged allegiance to ISIS during the attack. It's the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
Last week, Sen. Murphy launched a 15-hour filibuster, holding up a spending bill to fund the Department of Justice until a agreement could be reached to hold a vote on some pro-gun control amendments that Senate Democrats think could help prevent another mass shooting. The filibuster ended when Republicans agreed to vote on these amendments. As you could expect, Senate Democrats peddled some inaccurate claims about gun laws.
Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and John Cornyn (R-TX) have offered amendments of their own, which will be voted on tonight as well.
USA Today has a more detailed description of the four amendments being debated:
An amendment by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., would allow the attorney general to deny a gun sale to anyone if she has a "reasonable belief" — a lesser standard than "probable cause" — that the buyer was likely to engage in terrorism. The proposal is popularly known as the "no-fly, no-buy" amendment, but wouldn't just apply to people on the "no fly" terrorist watch list.
An Republican alternative by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, which would require that law enforcement be alerted when anyone on the terror watch list attempts to buy a weapon from a licensed dealer. If the buyer has been investigated for terrorism within the past five years, the attorney general could block a sale for up to three days while a court reviews the sale.
An amendment by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, would make it more difficult to add mentally ill people to the background check database, giving people suspected of serious mental illness a process to challenge that determination.
An amendment by Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., that would close the "gun show loophole" by requiring every gun purchaser to undergo a background check, and to expand the background check database.
UPDATE: Grassley Amendment has failed by a 53-47 vote. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) joined Republicans, while Sens. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) broke ranks to join Democrats.
#Breakint Senate fails to get 60 votes on Grassley plan for background check system. 53 yeas to 47 nays. Effectively kills Grassley plan.— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) June 20, 2016
UPDATE: Murphy Amendment to expand background checks fails on a mostly party line 56-44 vote. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) joined Democrats, while Sens. Joe Manchin (R-WV), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) broke ranks and voted with the Republicans in opposition.
#BREAKING Senate fails to advance Murphy's plan to close gunshow loophole. Needed 60 yeas. Only got 44. Vote was 44 yeas to 56 nays— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) June 20, 2016
UPDATE: Cornyn Amendment that would require law enforcement to be notified of a gun purchase from someone on a terror watch list fails 53-47. The amendment would also empower the attorney general to block that sale for up to three days pending a review.
Sens. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) were the only two Democratic yeas on Cornyn AG gun plan— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) June 20, 2016
Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) were only GOP nays on Cornyn's AG gun delay plan— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) June 20, 2016
UPDATE: Feinstein’s no-fly, no-buy amendment that would bar people on terror watch lists from buying guns, despite the lack of due process of law, goes down in a 53-47 vote. Republican Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) joined Republicans, while Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) broke with Democrats to vote against the measure.
Feinstein’s horrible bill deserves to lose by much worse than a party-line vote— Allahpundit (@allahpundit) June 20, 2016
Feinstein no-fly list vote got 47 yeas. Only got 45 on December vote after San Bernardino— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) June 20, 2016
2 GOP defectors on Feinstein no-fly list plan. Ayotte & Kirk. Both face tough reelections this fall in swing states— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) June 20, 2016
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) was sole Democratic nay on Feinstein no-fly list plan.— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) June 20, 2016
These amendments were projected to fail on mostly party line votes. You have a handful of pro-gun Democrats and Republican senators in tight re-election battles this year. Yet, given that these amendments were expected to fail, it’s not like they’ll reap political dividends back home for breaking with their respective parties. The most telling gauge from this pro-gun control push in the Senate is Feinstein’s no-fly, no-buy amendment, which only garnered two more votes from the last time a similar measure was up for a vote after the San Bernardino attack last December. It shows that the needle hasn’t moved much on this issue—and it shouldn’t. There was literally no law that would’ve prevented the Orlando killer from buying firearms. He had a firearms license issued to him from the state of Florida. He had no prior criminal history. He went through background checks to purchase his firearms legally.
As for the terror watch list narrative, are we willing to set the Constitution on fire to curb gun rights? Or worse—ban a class of rifles that aren’t used in the vast majority of gun crimes? Oh, and Republicans aren’t safe from blame either. They really pushed for terror watch lists until Democrats decided to utilize it to attack the Second Amendment. Again, as far as I can remember, we strip American citizens of their rights after being charged, tried, and convicted of a crime. This debate isn’t going away. The anti-gun Left’s nonsense isn’t going away either. Hillary Clinton and President Obama want to reinstate the assault weapons ban, so this fight is far from over. But for today, the line was held in the Senate.