United States Senate

Student Charged After Refusing to Remove NRA T-Shirt

Jared Marcum -- NRA t-shirt

Free speech apparently doesn’t mean what it used to. Politico notes that a West Virginia middle school student was charged with “causing a disruption” during school because he refused to remove his t-shirt, which sported the logo of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and a rifle:

A West Virginia student was charged with causing a disruption at a middle school when he refused to remove a T-shirt that displayed the National Rifle Association’s logo and hunting rifle.

Jared Marcum, 14, said the shirt did not violate Logan Middle School’s dress code policy.
Marcum’s stepfather, Allen Lardieri, said the youth was waiting in line in the school cafeteria Thursday when a teacher ordered the eighth-grader to remove the T-shirt or to turn it inside out.

Marcum said was sent to the office where he again refused the order.

“When the police came, I was still talking and telling them that this was wrong, that they cannot do this, it’s not against any school policy. The officer, he told me to sit down and be quiet. I said, `No, I’m exercising my right to free speech.’ I said it calmly,” he said.

Politico notes that the school’s dress code policy does prohibt clothing that displays certain messages, including items that use profanity, alcohol, and tobacco. It does not, however, prohibit clothing that displays a firearm or expresses support for one of the nation’s oldest civil liberties organizations.

Reid Tables Gun Control Bill, Manchin Still Lobbying for Background Checks

Harry Reid

It seems that the gun control is on hold in the Senate. According to The Hill, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced yesterday that the bill had been tabled and that the chamber would move on to other issues:

“It’s only a matter of time before we bring this anti-gun-violence measure back to the floor for a vote,” Reid said Thursday. “The stand of the Republicans is not sustainable.”

Reid said Democrats knew passing gun control measures would be an uphill battle.

“We knew all along that efforts to pass stronger background checks and keep guns out of the hands of criminals wouldn’t be easy,” Reid said. “But it’s worth the effort.”

Two of the policies pushed by President Barack Obama and most Senate Democrats went down on Wednesday. The Manchin-Toomey amendment, which would expand background checks to unlicensed gun dealers and online gun sales, failed in a 54 to 46 vote (60 votes were needed) and the Assault Weapons Ban amendment, sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) only received 40 votes.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has said that he will continue to push the background checks amendment in hopes to gain enough support to bring it back up in the future. However, the opposition to the bill will be substantial unless there are tweaks.

Senate Democrat Holds Resolution Honoring Margaret Thatcher

Bob Menendez

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.

Senate Votes to Proceed on Gun Control Bill

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.

UN Approves Obama-backed Arms Trade Treaty

United Nations

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).

ICYMI: Senate Takes Stand Against U.N. Arms Trade Treaty

United Nations

While the vote may only be symbolic, it’s still important. In case you missed it in my brief rundown of amendments to the budget, it’s worth mentioning once more.

Early Saturday morning, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) presented an amendment to the budget that would prevent the United States from entering into the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, which opponents say could put Second Amendment rights at risk:

In the pre-dawn hours Saturday, the Senate approved a measure “to uphold Second Amendment rights and prevent the United States from entering into the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.”

By a vote of 53-46, the Senate passed the amendment to the budget bill sponsored by Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.).
“We’re negotiating a treaty that cedes our authority to have trade agreements with our allies in terms of trading arms,” Inhofe before the vote on his amendment. “This is probably the last time this year that you’ll be able to vote for your Second Amendment rights.”

According to a story in The Hill, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) proposed his own amendment “that clarified that under current U.S. law, treaties don’t trump the Constitution and that the United States should not agree to any arms treaty that violates the Second Amendment rights.” Leahy’s amendment also passed.

Cruz, Lee, and Paul Threaten Filibuster on Gun Control Measures

Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz

The conservative trio who held up John Brennan’s confirmation to the CIA for 13 hours and exposed the White House’s drones policy could be at it again when the Senate takes up gun control measures next month. It may not be a “talking filibuster” like it was the earlier this month, but it could certainly throw a wrench in Senate Democrats’ plans.

According to Politico, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Rand Paul (R-KY) will today deliver a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) stating that they will oppose a procedural motion on any legislation aimed at tightening gun control regulations:

Sens. Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee are threatening to filibuster gun-control legislation, according to a letter they plan to hand-deliver to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office on Tuesday.

“We will oppose the motion to proceed to any legislation that will serve as a vehicle for any additional gun restrictions,” the three conservatives wrote in a copy of the signed letter obtained by POLITICO.
Though they don’t use the word “filibuster” in the letter, the conservatives are leaving no doubt that they would filibuster on an initial procedural question — the motion to proceed.

Justin Amash is “Certainly Open” to a Senate run in 2014

Justin Amash

Last week, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) announced that we would retire as the end of his current term. As I explained on Friday, this leaves a door open for Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), who has been solid on fiscal issues and civil liberties, to make the jump to the Senate — and it looks like he may actually do it. According to The Detroit News, Amash is indeed weighing his options:

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, a young firebrand in the lower chamber who has championed a Ron Paul-style of libertarian politics, said Monday he is “certainly open” to a run in 2014.

“Frankly, we can’t afford to nominate another unelectable establishment Republican,” Amash, R-Cascade Township, told The Detroit News. “History shows they don’t appeal to moderate and independent voters.”
Amash, 32, said a traditional establishment candidate cannot win the Senate seat. Posting explanations for his votes — including those that buck the GOP leadership — on his social media pages, Amash said he has enjoyed grassroots support to join the race.

“I don’t think any of the names that are being tossed around have quite hit the spot for most Republican voters or for most voters in the general election,” Amash said. “People both within the Republican Party and within the general electorate are tired of the pro-corporate welfare, anti-civil liberties Republican. I think we need to stop running on the past.”

Chatting with Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)

Mike Lee

“[T]he powers of government must be restrained. They’ve got to be restrained in terms of what they do in administering government programs, they need to be restrained as far as how much money they take from the American people, and they need to be restrained in terms of how much they interfere with the liberty of individual Americans.” — Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)

Back in 2010, conservatives trained their focus on Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT), who had positioned himself over the years as a big government Republican. Bennett had backed billions in corporate welfare for private companies, including the TARP bailout, and supported a healthcare proposal that was considered by some to be worse than ObamaCare.

Bennett was unable to gain enough support during the 2010 Utah GOP convention to win the nomination, setting the stage for a primary between Tim Bridgewater and Mike Lee.

Lee would go on to edge out his primary opponent thanks to his strong constitutional and fiscally conservative message and support from grassroots organizations, and he easily defeated his Democratic opponent in the historic 2010 mid-term election.

Ted Cruz is Popular in Texas

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz (R-TX) has ruffled some feathers since joining the Senate in January. Shortly, after President Obama unveiled his gun control proposals, Cruz dismantled arguments for the Assault Weapons Ban, calling it a “singularly ineffective piece of legislation” and slamming its proponents for misleading Americans.

He was one of three members to vote against John Kerry’s confirmation to serve as Secretary of State and he lead the charge against Chuck Hagel’s nomination for Secretary of Defense, though he did cross a line in his questioning.

Cruz, who won the GOP nomination for Senate with heavy grassroots support against an establishment candidate, is seeing the benefits of his cavalier attitude back in the Lone Star State, according to a new poll:

Texas’s Junior Sen. Ted Cruz has been making some waves since joining the U.S. Senate, and it’s earning him solid poll numbers back home, a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune survey has found.

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