UPDATED 6:15 pm
At least one Republican expressed confusion with his colleagues’ threats to filibuster gun control legislation as the Senate returns from reces.
“I don’t understand it,” Arizona Senator John McCain said on Sunday’s Face the Nation. “The purpose of the United States senate is to debate and to vote and to let the people know where we stand.”
He said he’d encourage his colleagues not to follow through.
“What are we afraid of?” he asked. “Why would we not want, if this issue is as important as all of us think it is, why not take it on the world’s greatest deliberative—that’s the greatest exaggeration in history, by the way—but, you know, why not take it up an amendment and debate? The American people will profit from it. I do not understand why United States senators want to block debate when the leader has said that we can have amendments.”
His comments come as more of his colleagues have decided to sign onto Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s vow to block any new gun control legislation. A dozen Republicans have agreed to join Paul’s potential filibuster, according to Politico, with Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Jim Risch and Mike Crapo of Idaho, Dan Coats of Indiana, and Jerry Morgan and Pat Roberts of Kansas adding their.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell signed onto that filibuster threat too on Monday afternoon.”Sen. McConnell opposes the Reid bill (S.649). While nobody knows yet what Sen. Reid’s plan is for the gun bill, if he chooses to file cloture on the motion to proceed to the Reid bill, Sen. McConnell will oppose cloture on proceeding to that bill,” McConnell’s office said in a statement.
Fellow GOPers Mike Lee of Utah, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Marco Rubio of Florida had already expressed support.
Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma has criticized the grandstanding, pointing the finger at Paul. “Is that about filibustering a bill to protect the Second Amendment, or is that about Rand Paul?” Coburn wonders, according to the Wall Street Journal. “I’ve done more filibusters than Rand Paul is old.”
President Obama also slammed the select group of Republicans planning that filibuster in a passionate speech at the University of Hartford Monday.
“Some back in Washington are already floating the idea that they might use political stunts to prevent votes on any of these reforms,” he said. “Think about that. They’re not just saying they’ll vote ‘no’ on ideas that almost all Americans support. They’re saying they won’t allow any votes on them at all. They’re saying your opinion doesn’t matter, and that’s not right.”
Meanwhile, a Washington Post report reveals that another bipartisan Senate deal may be emerging from two pro-gun lawmakers, as West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin and Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey work on a bill to expand background checks. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may call for a vote on that compromise if it can be worked out.
The White House is set to intensify its campaign for gun control legislation this week, with Vice President Joe Biden scheduled to speak Tuesday alongside Attorney General Eric Holder at the White House and the first lady set to go to Chicago Wednesday to talk about gun violence.