Senate to vote today on gun measures
WASHINGTON (CNN) — As Senate Democrats continued their push to break through a blockade to enact new restrictions on gun sales, eyes turned on Monday to an effort by moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins to craft a fifth alternative, one week after the Orlando terror attack.
Senators were scheduled to come in Monday evening to vote on four measures — two Democratic and two Republican — that would set new rules on background checks and put new controls in place on sales to those flagged on government watch lists. But all four measures were expected to fail — based on partisan fault lines in the Senate and previous votes on similar measures after other mass shootings.
“Sadly the expectation is that you are not going to get enough Republican Senators,” Florida Sen. Bill Nelson told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on “New Day” in reference to the gun control proposals up for votes. “All you need is 14 Republican Senators.”
But even if any gun control legislation does make its way out of the Senate, it’s unlikely to get a vote in the House, where House Speaker Paul Ryan threw cold water on the idea during his weekly press conference last Thursday.
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar told CNN’s Jim Sciutto that while there remains fierce resistance in the House — where Republicans outnumber Democrats 247-188 — the push for action in the wake of the Orlando terror attack reflects new momentum in the gun control debate.
“I don’t know that it’s going to be different than when we had votes in the past, but there is one thing that is different. People are starting to talk. There are starting to be negotiations going on. I think that’s very important,” Klobuchar said.
Two competing proposals — one from Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California and one from GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas — would set new hurdles for those on the federal terror watch list from buying guns. But similar versions by those senators were rejected in December and neither is expected to pass next week.
In addition, senators will vote on one Democratic and one Republican proposal addressing background checks for gun sales, but members of both parties admit they are unlikely to be approved.
But much of the focus has shifted to a fifth, limited compromise measure, being crafted by Collins and other moderate senators from both parties. The Collins measure would bar people on the government’s no-fly list — a significantly smaller group than the terror watch list — from purchasing guns and also set in place some protections for anyone wrongly placed on the no-fly list.
The Collins proposal is not up for a vote Monday and has yet to receive an important blessing from Senate Republican leaders, but is viewed as the best option for actual approval.
Klobuchar also continued to advocate for a law that would prevent terror suspects from being able to purchase weapons.
“We know that the vast majority of the American people want to see better background checks and they also don’t want people on a terror watch list to go out and purchase a weapon,” she said.
She cited presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump’s support for such a proposal, noting she was “actually kind of surprised that the Republican presidential candidate has said people on the terror watch list shouldn’t be able to go out and purchase a weapon,” apparently referencing a tweet Trump sent last week saying he was open to discussing such a proposal. Trump told ABC Sunday, however, he “understands exactly” the NRA’s concerns over such a proposal.
Klobuchar pointed to the intersection of concerns about gun violence and terrorism as a “political sweet spot” that could actually result in meaningful policy change.
But she also cautioned that “if we don’t make it tonight, it’s not the end. There’s still room to continue to work.”