NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

U.S. Senate’s NRA caucus blocks legislation to require background checks on more gun sales

A bipar­ti­san pro­pos­al to require back­ground checks on the sale of firearms at gun shows and over the Inter­net has failed to advance in the Unit­ed States Sen­ate after being suc­cess­ful­ly fil­i­bus­tered by forty-one Repub­li­cans and four Democrats.

By a vote of fifty-four to forty-six (with Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Har­ry Reid vot­ing nay so that he has the abil­i­ty to bring up the leg­is­la­tion again lat­er) the Sen­ate nixed the amend­ment care­ful­ly craft­ed by Sen­a­tors Joe Manchin of West Vir­ginia and Pat Toomey of Penn­syl­va­nia to strength­en back­ground checks, an idea that pub­lic opin­ion research sug­gests around 90% of the Amer­i­can peo­ple support.

Sen­a­tors from the Pacif­ic North­west were even­ly split on the amend­ment. The roll call from our region was as fol­lows:

Vot­ing Aye: Democ­rats Pat­ty Mur­ray and Maria Cantwell (WA), Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden (OR), Jon Tester (MT)

Vot­ing Nay: Democ­rats Mark Begich (AK) and Max Bau­cus (MT); Repub­li­cans Mike Crapo and Jim Risch (ID), Lisa Murkows­ki (AK)

Begich and Bau­cus were two of the four Democ­rats who vot­ed against the amend­ment. The oth­er two Democ­rats were Mark Pry­or of Arkansas and the recent­ly elect­ed Hei­di Heitkamp of North Dakota.

As men­tioned, Har­ry Reid also vot­ed against the amend­ment after he knew what the out­come would be, so that he has the abil­i­ty to bring it back to the Sen­ate floor at a lat­er point in time. (Reid sup­ports back­ground checks and would have vot­ed aye if there had been fifty-nine oth­er aye votes).

Sev­er­al Repub­li­cans joined with the rest of the Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus in sup­port of the amend­ment. They were Pat Toomey of Penn­syl­va­nia, Mark Kirk of Illi­nois, Susan Collins of Maine, and sur­pris­ing­ly, John McCain of Arizona.

McCain’s Ari­zona seat­mate Jeff Flake, who the White House and activists had pre­vi­ous­ly hoped might vote in favor of the amend­ment, vot­ed nay after announc­ing he would join the Repub­li­can fil­i­buster last night.

Our friends at the PCCC are launch­ing an ad cam­paign against the four Demo­c­ra­t­ic sen­a­tors who failed the peo­ple of the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca by join­ing in the Repub­li­can fil­i­buster to block the Manchin/Toomey pro­pos­al from mov­ing forward.

We at NPI are par­tic­u­lar­ly dis­ap­point­ed in Sen­a­tors Begich and Bau­cus for stand­ing with the Nation­al Rifle Asso­ci­a­tion (NRA) instead of the vast major­i­ty of Amer­i­cans, includ­ing respon­si­ble gun own­ers, who sup­port clos­ing the back­ground check loop­hole so that crim­i­nals can’t avoid scruti­ny by buy­ing firearms at gun shows or over the Inter­net. They had an oppor­tu­ni­ty to demon­strate polit­i­cal courage and they squan­dered that oppor­tu­ni­ty. Shame on them.

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One Comment

  1. Is this real­ly an NRA “cau­cus”? A cau­cus is a set of peo­ple whho actu­al­ly meet for a par­tic­u­lar pur­pose. I sus­pect that the no-vot­ing sen­a­tors were not actu­al­ly meet­ing as a group. Mem­bers of a cau­cus have loy­al­ty to any group deci­sion the cau­cus makes, thus lim­it­ing out­side influ­ence. In the case of the gun vote per­ceived con­cerns of home vot­ers seemed to me to have been more impor­tant than any “cau­cus” loyalty.

    # by Jeff Smith :: April 18th, 2013 at 5:46 AM
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