Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Far from Over

Just this morning, prospects for gun safety reform in Congress were looking fairly grim. After all, several Senate Republicans were threatening a filibuster. So yet again, another big legislative idea bites the dust on Capitol Hill...

Or perhaps not.

Shortly after our first story was posted, Senator Dean Heller's (R) office confirmed rumors that he would not back the G-O-TEA filibuster of fellow Nevada Senator Harry Reid's (D) gun safety bill. And now that Senators Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) and Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania) are floating some sort of compromise amendment to Reid's bill, even more Republicans have been dropping their filibuster threats today. Greg Sargent has more.

Right now, if you total up the 55 Dem Senators, plus the [10] Republicans who support moving to a debate, that makes [65] Senators. Dems can [...] afford to lose [5] red state Dems if they are going to break the GOP’s front end filibuster on moving to debate (or more, if more Republicans, such as Toomey, come out for the motion to proceed).

But if red state Dems can work up the courage to at least allow a debate on these proposals, then we are moving forward and the far right bloc’s front-end obstructionism will have been broken. And in truth, I believe they will support debate. After all, they have all the cover they could possibly have, with at least seven Republicans supporting this, too.

Now, all of this doesn’t mean there still isn’t trouble ahead. Republicans will obviously filibuster the bill later, meaning it will require 60 votes to end debate, too. But the current state of play suggests a potential endgame in this battle. If Harry Reid allows amendments — depriving Republicans of procedural objections — you could see a handful of Republican Senators deciding to support a vote to end debate, even if they vote No on the final proposal. This would be a good way of giving the Newtown families something — as Obama said, “they deserve a vote” — while maintaining opposition to the final proposal. Or, if the Manchin-Toomey compromise comes together, you could see a few Republicans actually support the final proposal.

With Heller included, there are now 10 Senate Republicans on record promising to approve a motion to proceed. That means a filibuster of even debating gun safety reform legislation will likely be defeated, as there are probably at least 50 Senate Democrats willing to approve that very motion to proceed. So there will at least be formal debate and consideration of Senator Reid's bill... And some possible Manchin-Toomey amendment(s) to it, along with other amendments (such as the new Assault Weapons Ban).

So what happens next? There will be debate. And there will be amendments. And there will be a motion to close debate on some sort of final bill. We'll just have to wait and see if a final bill can finally emerge. But at least today, it's far from over. In fact, it may only be just beginning.

Just make sure to tune in Thursday.

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