Background checks defeated in key Senate vote
A bipartisan proposal on expanded background checks for gun purchases was defeated in a Senate vote on Wednesday afternoon, after key members signaled earlier in the day they wouldn’t support the measure.
After the vote, President Barack Obama let his opinions be known.
“This was a pretty shameful day for Washington, but this effort is not over,” Obama said in the Rose Garden.
Comments made by Joe Manchin, who along with Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey had proposed a compromise amendment, signaled the amendment was in deep trouble early in the day.
Manchin told an NBC reporter he didn’t expect the measure to pass, and those comments were quickly publicized on Twitter. Manchin’s office then tried to explain the statement, to no avail. Toomey made similar comments.
Then Senator Kelly Ayotte, a key potential swing vote, announced she wouldn’t support the Manchin-Toomey amendment.
North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp also publicly said she couldn’t vote in favor of the amendment.
The amendment’s supporters needed 60 votes for the measure to pass. The Democrats have 53 votes in the Senate and two independent senators who usually vote with the Democrats. But with some Democrats publicly opposed to the measure, the bill’s supporters needed nine Republicans to break ranks.
Three other measures are currently seen as having a good chance of passing in the Senate and the House: tougher measures against “straw” purchasers of guns used in crimes; more efforts to divert resources to mental health programs; and more funding for security for schools.
The absence of the background check amendment might speed up the process of getting a bill passed by the Senate and into the House for a vote. Republicans were considering the addition of dozens of amendments to stall the bill if the Manchin-Toomey proposal was successful.
However, Democrats aren’t expected to support a GOP-sponsored background check measure.
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