Offering daily news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

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.

One Comment

  1. Jeff Smith
    Posted April 18th, 2013 at 5:46 AM | Permalink

    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.