Gun filibuster appears to misfire for conservative backers
April 10th, 2013
07:26 PM ET
1 year ago

Gun filibuster appears to misfire for conservative backers

Washington (CNN) – A filibuster of major gun legislation by a vocal band of conservative Republican senators may have misfired, as a growing number of their GOP colleagues appear ready to help break it when it comes up for a vote on Thursday.

The public split is a rarity for Senate Republicans, who over the past few years have kept divisions to a minimum.

At issue is whether to begin debate on the contentious legislation that would, among other things, expand background checks, restrict straw-purchases, and toughen laws on gun trafficking.

Fourteen Republicans have publicly vowed to block debate from happening, forcing Democratic leaders to get 60 votes in order to take up the bill.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky – under pressure from his right flank as he readies a re-election run -signed onto the filibuster even as other senators pushed for an open debate.

“The senate is a place to debate,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, who will vote to break the filibuster. “As far as I’m concerned, for me not to be willing to defend the Second Amendment rights of Tennesseans on the Senate floor is like joining the Grand Ole Opry and not being willing to sing.”

Sen. John Cornyn, who as the Senate Republican Whip is second in the GOP chain of command, said he expected the filibuster would be broken because many GOP senators are “eager” to amend the bill, which was written largely by Democrats.

“I think there will be a fulsome debate,” he said. “Notwithstanding the signals from some quarters, we welcome a fulsome debate on this. There are some people with some very good ideas, like Sen. (Lindsey) Graham (R-South Carolina) on the mental health issues that should be a sweet spot that could actually pull people together to do something that would be meaningful in preventing a repetition” of mass violence.

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, over the weekend was the first to criticize GOP colleagues calling for a filibuster.

Even the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page chastised the filibustering Republicans for not wanting to take up the bill.

“If conservatives want to prove their gun-control bona fides, the way to do it is to debate the merits and vote on the floor. They can always filibuster the final bill if they want to, but it makes no sense to paint themselves into a political box canyon before even knowing what they’re voting on,” the paper said.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, one of the leaders of the filibuster, told conservative radio talk show host Laura Ingraham Wednesday that the criticism of it has been “silly.”

“The critics have said we have to have a debate, we need to have a vote. We are having a debate and we’re going to have a vote,” he said. “The only question is what should the vote threshold be for legislation that would violate potentially the bill of rights. I think it should be a minimum of 60 votes.”

Cruz accused fellow Republicans of rushing to debate a bill without knowing much about it.

“I’ll point out that a lot of the Republicans who say they are happy to shut off the debate and move to the bill, they don’t even know what the bill contains,” Cruz said. “It’s reminiscent of Nancy Pelosi talking about Obamacare saying we have to pass it to find what it’s in it. The bill that Republicans are going on television and saying we gotta move to and vote on, they still don’t know the details because the Democrats haven’t released the details of the bill they’re moving to proceed to.”

Another senator backing the filibuster, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, went to the Senate floor on Wednesday to defend his cause. He argued the filibuster was helpful because the delay gives senators more time to consider the measure.

“Contrary to the statements made by the president and my friends across the aisle, and even a few in my own caucus, we have no intention of preventing debate or votes. Quite the opposite. By objecting to the motion to proceed, we guarantee that the Senate and the American people have at least three additional days to assess and evaluate exactly how this particular bill will affect the rights of law-abiding citizens and whether it will have any significant impact on crime.”

Alexander, who hasn’t indicated how he will vote on a final bill, said open debate on the issue will be good for the country.

“That’s what senators are supposed to do. Instead of having deals made and agreements made in back rooms and never having bills and never having amendments, open it up and let the Senate work. I think the American people would prefer that I think we’ll have better government if we do.”


Filed under: Gun rights • Senate
soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. Tom

    Cruz is the polished version of Louie Gohmert.

    April 10, 2013 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  2. ghostriter

    “The critics have said we have to have a debate, we need to have a vote. We are having a debate and we’re going to have a vote,” he said. “The only question is what should the vote threshold be for legislation that would violate potentially the bill of rights. I think it should be a minimum of 60 votes.” – Ted Cruz

    Sorry Charile. What you think should happen and what the Constitution says are different. In this country, we don't need 60 votes to pass laws. Why is it you conservatives are always willing to follow the letter of the Constitution.....until it gets in the way of your agendas?

    April 10, 2013 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  3. Catmandew

    Makes more sense to go ahead and debate it out in the open to me. Then if you don't agree with it vote no on final bill.

    April 10, 2013 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  4. LIbertyGuy

    GOP members back tracking on gun rights who would have guessed. Republicans leave the liar party once and for all and consider the true conservative party the Libertarian Party! I guess the problems is most republicans are not really conservative they are nothing more than big government liberals of a different tune.

    April 10, 2013 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  5. LIbertyGuy

    I swear you say libertarian party your comment will get blocked. Lets call this a test CNN prove me wrong.

    GOP members back tracking on gun rights who would have guessed. Republicans leave the liar party once and for all and consider the true conservative party the Libertarian Party! I guess the problems is most republicans are not really conservative they are nothing more than big government liberals of a different tune.

    April 10, 2013 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  6. Larry L

    The filibuster is constantly used by Republicans to avoid debate on the virtues of legislation. Why would anybody be shocked to see the same people who try to block minorities and the poor from voting at the polls try to stop the democratic process in the Congress? Democracy doesn't work for them unless they control all branches of the government.

    April 10, 2013 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  7. Katie

    Go McCain. Finally, a real leader among the Republicans – sorry it took you so long to realize pandering to the crazy right wing members of the GOP and the supposed grass-roots Tea Partiers who have zero interest in actually WORKING was just not the way to get anything done. Expose those nut jobs for the cowards they are. Go McCain.

    April 10, 2013 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  8. gunn

    This issue just showed america who is Marco Rubio a wolf with sheep clothing. He will do anything to advance his political ambitions. He dosn't stand or believe in anything, only issues that can get him somewhere! He is a punk!.

    April 10, 2013 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  9. gunn

    I always like John McCain. He should habe been the president! He is smart but the young punks are running the show.

    April 10, 2013 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  10. Wayne LaP.

    The Republicants are seriously backpedalling since McCain called their bluff.

    April 10, 2013 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  11. bspurloc

    how dare gubbermint touch my bear arms. however I am totally ok with gubbermint stomping my 1st and 4th mendment rights with the Patriot Act without due process.....

    April 10, 2013 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  12. john

    Dont you believe it! Do you honestly think that they will stop at your second amendment rights? Once they have that the dominoe effect will happen and all rights starting with the first amendment will fall one after the other.
    If on the off chance your that stupid – I have some ocean front property in Nevada to sell you...

    April 10, 2013 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  13. SafeJourney

    McCarthy Cruz, opening his mouth to change feet again

    April 10, 2013 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  14. Seattle Sue

    One thing we know for sure is the names of the fourteen cowardly jerks that was threatening a filibuster. Now if the voters will just vote them out.

    April 10, 2013 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  15. P G Williams

    Re Dinner "Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another" (1st John 4: 11)

    April 10, 2013 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  16. S.B. Stein

    If they are unwilling to debate this or even speak about what is wrong with it, then they appear to know that they are in the wrong. What is so wrong about even talking about this need to make clear the restrictions?

    April 10, 2013 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  17. Van Krunk

    Take a vote and shut all the gun grabbing NUTS up once and for all!!!

    April 10, 2013 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  18. Bob

    If I buy a car, I have to register it. Every car has a unique identification number. If I drive a car, I have to prove to the government that I can safely operate it. When a 90-year old lady with cataracts and shaky hands goes to renew her license, they refuse and take away her license so she won't hurt herself or others. When she goes to get rid of her car, she has to tell the government so that her nephew doesn't go out and run over a bunch of nuns and they don't come knocking on her door. Cars are a necessity for many (could you afford to walk to work or school each day?) and are used by most people every day but the government can still regulate their use. Their are 100 time as many cars in this country and those cars are used 1000 times (at least) as often as guns. Yet this year, more people under 30 will be killed by guns than cars. So why can't the government license guns like they do with cars? Why can't they require gun owners transfer ownership (and report stolen guns) the same way they do with cars? Before you say "2nd Amendment", the government can regulate rights. They require you register to vote even though it is a right just like gun ownership. "A well regulated" are even the first three words of the second amendment. By definition of how society works, no rights are absolute. I dare you to yell "Hijack" in an airport or "Fire" in a crowded theater and then try to explain your absolute 1st amendment rights to the police as they are taking you to jail (and then to the judge as he fines you or sentences you to even more time). What's is so unreasonable about making people be responsible (and liable) for their guns they way they are for their cars? Are you really going to argue an unregistered gun is more necessary for the vast majority of people than a car?

    April 10, 2013 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  19. whatever

    The Bill of Rights specifically prohibits the government from quartering soldiers in the homes of private citizens. Third Amendment–right there after the Second.
    Therefore, in the true spirit of the GOP objections to background checks, we must vigorously oppose the government having knowledge of our address, lest someday they create a *gasp* registry of our addresses in order to maybe someday usurp the constitution by knowing where we live SOLELY FOR THE PURPOSE of unconstitutionally housing soldiers in our homes.

    April 10, 2013 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  20. Name lynn

    The people get back ground checks a some may get guns an some may not, its depends on their back ground check, what s drag.

    April 10, 2013 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  21. Fubarack

    Not a misfire, they may just let the vote go on, so everyone has to own their vote.

    April 10, 2013 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  22. Namesally Anderson

    I think we should trust the Republican leadership to do their job. We can not be back seat drivers. They're elected to do what is best for their constituents, so let them do their job. We are on the outside and do not know all the behind the sce ne workings.Pray they do what is right.

    April 10, 2013 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  23. Ralph Rodgers

    Back ground checks are already a law. I've bought guns at gun shows twice and I had a back ground check both times. I've bought off the internet the gun had to shipped to a FFL dealer who did the back ground check.. This is bill is worthless.. The president is wrong on the gun issue and the democrats will lose in 2014..

    April 10, 2013 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    Let the crazy people have cap guns. And everyperson who killed someone help the family out because they take one person of the family. forget the filbuster and gun control.

    April 10, 2013 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  25. Rodeo Will

    Ah the GOP just keeps digging dont they.

    April 10, 2013 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
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