Shortly after the amendments expand background checks and ban so-called “assault weapons” failed in the Senate, President Barack Obama, who campaigned for both proposals, indignantly lashed out at members of the chamber who voted against the measures:
“All in all this was a pretty shameful day for Washington,” Obama said in the Rose Garden, after walking to the podium with his arm around Giffords and hugged the relatives of victims of the December shooting.
Obama directed much of his anger at Republicans and seizing the political high ground for himself and fellow Democrats as he called out the opposition for rejecting an idea that polls show 90 percent of people support.
“Ninety percent of Democrats in the Senate just voted for (background checks),” Obama said. “But it’s not going to happen because 90 percent of Republicans in the Senate just voted against that idea. A majority of senators voted ‘yes’ to protecting more of our citizens with smarter background checks. But by this continuing distortion of Senate rules, a minority was able to block it from moving forward.”
President Obama also lit into gun rights groups, like the National Rifle Association, claiming that they are “better organized” and “better financed.” He also said that they lied about the anti-gun amendments that came before the Senate. However, President Obama insisted that “we are going to get this done…[s]ooner or later, we are going to get this right.”
The Senate defeated an amendment proposed by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) that would have expanded background checks to firearms purchases made at gun shows and online.
The amendment failed by a vote of 54 to 46. Four Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Mark Kirk (R-IL), John McCain (R-AZ), and Pat Toomey (R-PA) — voted for the measure. Five Democrats — Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT), Mark Begich (D-AK), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Mark Pryor (D-AR), and Harry Reid (D-NV) — voted against it. Reid only voted against the measure to reserve the right to bring it back up at a later time.
While it’s quite possible that Reid could bring the Manchin-Toomey amendment up for a vote again at a later date, it’s unlikely that it will pass without some changes. The
The National Rifle Association (NRA), which opposed the Manchin-Toomey amendment, hailed its defeat.
“Today, the misguided Manchin-Toomey-Schumer proposal failed in the U.S. Senate. This amendment would have criminalized certain private transfers of firearms between honest citizens, requiring lifelong friends, neighbors and some family members to get federal government permission to exercise a fundamental right or face prosecution,” said NRA Executive Director Chris Cox in a statement. ”As we have noted previously, expanding background checks, at gun shows or elsewhere, will not reduce violent crime or keep our kids safe in their schools.”
Despite heavy lobbying, Politico reported this morning that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who crafted an utterly pointless amendment with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) to expand background checks to gun shows and online gun sales, doesn’t have the votes to pass his measure today:
“We will not get the votes today,” Manchin told NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell, according to a message she posted on Twitter.
But when Manchin appeared minutes later on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” he had a slightly more optimistic take.
“We hope so,” Manchin said when asked if they had the votes, adding: “We have over 90 percent of the Senate Democrats that will vote affirmative. If we just had 20 percent of our Republican colleagues — that’s not a heavy ask, it’s not a heavy lift, only 20 percent, that’s nine members, nine members — this thing would be home.”
Roll Call notes that Manchin needs as many as eight votes to pass the amendment, and that he’s lost a lot of potential support since the Senate voted last week to proceed on the the gun control bill, including several Republicans who voted to end the conservative-backed filibuster.
It’s not a surprise that politicians use a a time of heightened fear or a tradegy to pass legislation or pursue policies that aren’t necessarily in the public’s best interest.
Just after the 2008 financial crisis, President-elect Barack Obama was making a push for his $830+ billion stimulus package. His subordinates were making the rounds on cable news shows and in the press as they tried scare Americans into supporting the plan. In a rare moment of honesty from a politician, Rahm Emanuel, who would later serve as President Obama’s White House Chief of Staff, told reports that using the recession for political gain was imperative.
“You never let a serious crisis go to waste,” Emanuel said. “And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”
During a trip to the European Union in January 2009, the newly minted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told an audience in Brussels that the global recession provided an opportunity for countries to rebuild their economies with so-called “green energy.”
“Never waste a good crisis,” Clinton said, as quoted by Reuters. “Don’t waste it when it can have a very positive impact on climate change and energy security.”
The on-going push for new and expanded gun control measures in the Senate is largely based on the same political games — pushing long-held policies at a time when Americans have a sense of uncertainty. While there aren’t many members who’ll say that outloud, the media is certainly highlighting point for them.
The Daily Caller reports that Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) is actively working to prevent a vote on a resolution offered by Senate Republicans that would honor the life and work of the late Margaret Thatcher, who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990, for reasons that have yet to be made clear:
While the House of Representatives passed a resolution honoring Thatcher last week, Menendez, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, objects to some of the language proposed by Republicans in the Senate’s version, sources said.
A copy of the proposed resolution, which would be offered by Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, honors “the life, legacy, and example of British Prime Minister Baroness Margaret Thatcher.”
Another source said Democrats want to “black out everything but a few lines acknowledging her service as prime minister.”
Reacting to the news, conservatives slammed Menendez.
“I don’t know if he’s blocking the Thatcher resolution because he likes Socialism or because he holds women in such low regard, but Senator Menendez should drop his objections immediately,” Matt Hoskins, the executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund, told TheDC.
Yeah, we all know what the media and gun control advocates are telling us — that the background check compromise between Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) explicitly prohibits gun registration and that the White House doesn’t support such a policy.
That may be true today, but let’s not deny that the eventual goal of the anti-gun Left. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) summed up the issue well during an interview last night on Hannity.
“Why is all this focus directed at background checks?” he asked. “The reason is because the Department of Justice has said the only way to implement what they want–universal background checks–is a registry, a federal list of every gun owner in America. And that would be wrong; it’d be unconstitutional.”
The most underreported part of this whole is discussion is the Department of Justice (DOJ) research memo that Cruz referenced. It stated very clearly that the effectiveness of universal background checks, which would cover private gun sales, “depends on the ability to reduce straw purchasing, requiring gun registration and an easy gun transfer process.”
The Toomey-Manchin deal only addresses gun shows and online firearms sales, which essentially makes it a useless policy. If you walked into a gun show this weekend and purchased a firearm from a federally licensed dealer, you would have to go through a background check.
The United States Senate voted this morning on Majority Leader Harry Reid’s motion to proceed with debate on proposed gun control laws.
Conservative senators — led by Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Rand Paul (R-KY) — had declared their intent to filibuster any attempt to move forward on new gun control laws. But with the pointless deal struck yesterday between Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) on expanded background checks, it was clear that momentum had shifted.
The Senate approved the motion to proceed by a 68-31 vote. Sixteen Republicans voted in favor of the motion to move forward on the gun control proposals. Two Democrats — Sens. Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Mark Begich (D-AK) — voted to sustain the filibuster.
Just after the vote, Reid said that it was likely that the Senate would take up the Toomey-Manchin amendment on background checks later today. He also noted that there would be a vote on the Assault Weapons Ban as an amendment to the bill. Reid had dropped that particular proposal out of the bill last month after he conceded that he couldn’t muster enough support for it.
The amendments process for the bill is expected to take some time, so a final vote on the bill is likely a few weeks away.
Always one to say what’s on his mind, Vice President Joe Biden attacked conservative senators who are planning to filibuster on gun control measures that will soon come before the upper chamber:
Speaking to law enforcement officials at the White House, Biden said he wished members of Congress had been able to “eavesdrop” on his discussion with the parents of children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 children and six adults were killed in a shooting in December.
“Not only are some of the senators not willing to stand and be counted, they’re prepared to stop anybody from being able to be counted. I mean, it’s almost mind-boggling,” Biden said.
“You’ve got leading senators, the most august body in the world, legislative body in the world — they’re saying we’re not even going to talk about this, a tragedy that traumatized the nation and caught the attention of the entire world,” he said. “And after all the thinking and the debate and the discussion with overwhelming majority of the American people thinking that the proposals the president put forward make absolute sense, the climax of this tragedy could be we’re not even going to get a vote?
“I can’t believe it. I mean, at the end of the day I can’t believe that it will actually happen,” he said.
The United Nations has approved the controversial Arms Treaty Treaty (ATT), which is expected to lead to a standoff between Second Amendment supporters in the Senate and the White House:
The United Nations’ overwhelming approval Tuesday of an arms trade treaty opposed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) sets up a showdown between President Obama and the powerful gun lobby’s friends on Capitol Hill.
President Obama is expected to sign the treaty within the next few months after the United States joined 153 other countries in supporting the treaty.
The Senate, however, has vowed to block ratification, which requires a two-thirds majority and is needed for the treaty to be legally binding on the U.S.
Many gun rights supporters believe that the treaty will serve as a backdoor for more strenuous gun control measures than what is currently being pushed by the White House. In particular, there is a requirement for countries to track gun ownership of small arms to the “end user” (gun registration).
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) recently insisted that universal background checks would be part of any new gun control package that made its way of the Senate. However, push back from key senators may force Democrats to change their strategy:
Senators from both parties signaled Sunday that universal background checks could be the next gun measure to get shoved toward the legislative scrap heap or significantly watered down.
Sen. Charles E. Schumer, whose bill to expand background checks to cover virtually all gun transactions, including private sales, has cleared the Judiciary Committee, said he is nevertheless hunting for a compromise on the issue.
Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona called universal checks “a bridge too far for most of us.”
“Well, the paperwork requirements alone would be significant, and even if there are exemptions for a father passing on a gun to his son or daughter, you’d still have issues with people in a private setting transferring or loaning a gun for somebody,” Mr. Flake said later on the program.
This controversial provision would expand background checks from gun dealers with a Federal Firearms License (FFL) to private gun sellers, which is an unprecendented move. Background checks are supposed to help prevent criminals or the mentally ill from obtaining firearms.